KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday heard from the members of the homeless coalition plan, six months after the group was officially formed.
Kingsport Police Chief David Quillin said he researched how other cities aid their homeless populations, leading him to a department in Colorado, where he identified a plan for Kingsport based on what that department had done. He said that a social worker embedded in the local police department, a homeless services liaison and a police officer dedicated to the homeless population could work for Kingsport’s situation.
News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais spoke with the members of the homeless initiative and what their individual roles are in the homeless coalition plan.
Social worker Erin Gray said she has personally helped or been referred to help 170 individuals. She said she helped 63 people with housing applications.
“Working through the system with those individuals to get permanent housing, getting them into rehab, detox – if they need it – making sure they get mental health follow-ups as needed,” she said.
Gray added that 19 people had been placed in permanent housing and 7 have been reunified with family since April.
The group’s goal, according to Homeless Services Liaison through the United Way of Greater Kingsport Jonathan Anderson, is among other things, to address local needs and identify strengths and weaknesses in the community’s current homelessness assistance system.
“Working with local organizations to improve communication to work on any barriers that there may be regarding our homeless community, any roadblocks that they may be experiencing, and helping them work through that,” Anderson told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais.
Kingsport Police Officer Jim Clark said that his knowledge of community-oriented policing helps his coordinate the criminal aspect of the city’s homeless population.
“A lot of it is, of course, involving drug abuse – which is a bit factor and, of course, there’s mental illness, which is another one,” he said.