Homeless/Mentally Ill Persons

Support of special services for mentally ill homeless persons in Knox County including help on the street or transportation to psychiatric services; medicine management, daily supervision of medication; financial management so bills are paid; sheltered work. Other special needs are information and referral services, case management and recreational and social opportunities.

The services above should be made available through a spectrum of housing options with case managers or outreach workers available in every setting. Homeless mentally ill persons should have a right to receive treatment even when they are unable to seek it for themselves although their civil rights must be safeguarded. Alternative services should be appropriate and attractive to mentally ill persons. Local state- funded mental health centers should be responsible for the planning and oversight of local services. The family should be involved but not bear total responsibility for overseeing services for family members. (Adopted 8/1986)

The LWVKKC supports a "housing-first" model to provide permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people with disabilities such as mental illness and/or chemical dependency. The housing-first model recognizes that people need to be housed in order to effectively utilize services that address the issues that have contributed to their chronic homelessness. Our current system of allowing these most needy citizens to live for years in emergency shelters or on the streets while cycling in and out of hospitals, jail, and detoxification is both inhumane and an inefficient use of our scarce public resources.

Permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people should not be concentrated in any one neighborhood but should instead be dispersed throughout Knox County. Siting decisions should be made on the basis of proximity to public transportation and other appropriate factors related to program needs. The process for siting these facilities should include early communication with neighbors and community organizations, including the provision of accurate information about the proposed program and opportunities for two-way conversations. While neighbors have a right to be heard, neighborhood opposition alone should not be a basis for rejecting an otherwise sound proposal. Applicable fair housing laws should be followed in all decision-making processes.

(Adopted 5/2010)