Census data show that Sevier Co. has about the same number of homeless people as Knox Co., but in a more rural area.
SEVIR COUNTY, Tennessee — Investigators say Joe Bates died in a fire that destroyed several businesses while he was homeless and living in downtown Gatlinburg. An empty room at the back of the building was set on fire to keep it warm overnight.
Many people say they are unaware that many people experience homelessness in downtown Gatlinburg, but outreach organizations say homeless people live in the surrounding area. .
“We and various other agencies get together and actually go out looking for homeless people and count them as people who are actually found to be homeless,” said Brandon Harris of the Tennessee Valley Coalition, Homelessness Director. rice field.
As of Jan. 6, there are 403 homeless people living in Sevier County, he said. It’s much smaller than Knox County, but about the same number when you factor in the population of both counties. In Sevier County, about 0.4% of the population is homeless. In Knox County, approximately 0.42% of the population is homeless, based on the latest census information.
In this tourist city, community leaders said they were seeing what they called a “seasonal” homeless population.
“When people have no income, that’s when most people become homeless,” Harris said. “People go through looking for a job, find that job, and when the job is done, they get stuck.”
Advocates say homelessness isn’t just a problem in big cities, it’s also a problem in rural areas like Sevier County.
“It is located far from resources. For example, people living in downtown areas who are homeless are within walking distance to food, medicines, medicines and other hygiene products. Rural people are far from resources. I have to walk longer distances because of the distance,” Harris said.
Find out how you can help here.