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Housing First Best Model for Homelessness

David Patterson, director of the doctor of social work program at UT and founder of the Knoxville Homeless Management Information System (KnoxHMIS), told the Knoxville News-Sentinel earlier this month that new programs designed to get people rehoused more quickly cut the time people were waiting for housing by more than half.

Patterson currently serves as chair of UT’s Academic Outreach and Engagement Council.

KnoxHMISPrograms are placing Knoxville’s homeless into housing more rapidly and residents are staying longer, according to a recently released report, providing further evidence that the housing first model is working.

Still, the lack of affordable housing in the city makes it more difficult to house the homeless and puts families and individuals at risk of losing their residences.

According to the Knoxville Homeless Management Information System annual report,1,951 people were placed in housing in 2015, 2 percent more than in 2014. An impressive 97 percent of them stayed housed without returning to emergency shelters.

The Homeless Management Information System, or KnoxHMIS, tracks the people accessing services for the homeless provided by 18 agencies. Last year, 9,339 people accessed services through those agencies, with about one-third new to the system. Eighty-three percent of active clients actually were homeless; the remainder lived in housing but were at risk of becoming homeless and received services.

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