KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — More affordable housing in Knoxville is one of the solutions to the area’s housing crisis, but it could also help solve youth homelessness.

Knoxville and Knox County just received a grant to help with youth homelessness. The grant is for a little more than $1.8 million and will help those 24 and younger through a variety of programs including permanent housing, transitional housing, emergency shelters and host homes.

Shawn Griffith with the Knoxville-Knox County Office on Housing Stability said teens and young adults don’t have to be sleeping on the streets to be considered homeless. 

“We have a lot of youth that are bouncing couch to couch, [from] different houses, and can get inside for a little bit of time,” he explained. “They haven’t burnt all the bridges throughout their entire support system yet.” 

Griffith hopes the new $1.8 million in grant money will make a difference for young people up to the age of 24.  

“This grant is called the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program. It gives communities the ability to build out a youth-specific homeless service system to provide services that don’t currently exist in a community,” he explained. “I believe last year in our entire system we had somewhere between 750 and 800 homeless youth interact in our system in the entire year.” 

The city and county can help with case management and re-housing for youth, but there are several other services Griffith said the grant will help with, 

“Some big things that currently don’t exist in our system right now are youth-specific supportive housing.” He said, “Some other gaps that exist are youth-specific emergency shelters.” 

The money could also be used to create housing for this specific group. 

Griffith said, “What the grant really allows us to do is to make the system more robust and identify where the critical gaps in services are and fill those gaps with these new services.” 

The work starts right now. They have six months to develop a plan and submit that to Housing and Urban Development.