Oct 24 2018
01:01 pm
By: michael kaplan

So, Madeline Rogero and Bill Lyons, now that the SmartFix encampment has been 'cleansed,' where are the homeless supposed to sleep, and what happens to their meager belongings? And what happens after KARM moves to their new Magnolia Avenue location?

michael kaplan's picture

It seems to me the old

It seems to me the old Salvation Army thrift store - sitting empty for a couple of years - could be used as a dormitory. Maybe the city government should use its eminent domain powers to appropriate it and put it to some useful purpose.

Bbeanster's picture

That's a pretty good idea;

That's a pretty good idea; could fill a big need.

michael kaplan's picture

I contacted Stephanie Welch

I contacted Stephanie Welch about this, and apparently Salvation Army has plans to use the building to provide some sort of 'social service programming.'

Of course, Bill Haslam should have dealt with this in some comprehensive way 15 years ago. To propose scattering the homeless in neighborhoods without adequate shopping or transportation was a non-starter, and providing 24 dwellings in Minvilla and another 48 or so in Flennekin did not even begin to deal with the scale of the problem.

In desperation, other cities - like Los Angeles, for example - have made it legal for homeless to occupy public spaces, including sidewalks. The problem clearly needs a big solution, and hopefully the next mayor will put this high on her/his agenda.

JR01's picture


Where have you seen KARM is moving to Magnolia?

michael kaplan's picture

I'm not going to reveal my

I'm not going to reveal my source, but I was informed several months ago that there were negotiations underway for KARM to divest of its present building. Surely someone in the city can confirm or deny this, and I await a response from Mayor Rogero or Bill Lyons. (This should be the work of investigative journalists ...)

Bill Lyons's picture

KARM is unaware of any move

Your source seems to be a bit less than reliable. We spoke to leaders of KARM today. They are unaware of any impending move to Magnolia.

michael kaplan's picture

And what about discussions to

And what about discussions to sell their existing building?

But KARM's future plans are a peripheral issue. Where are the people evacuated from the existing SmartFix site going to sleep nights? For a variety of reasons, many of them apparently do not qualify to sleep at KARM or Salvation Army. And the weather is getting cold and rainy.

So, Madeline Rogero and Bill Lyons, now that the SmartFix encampment has been 'cleansed,' where are the homeless supposed to sleep, and what happens to their meager belongings?

barker's picture

Where to sleep?

I know you addressed Bill on this, but I've been covering the issue for Compass so I'll weigh in. City officials have said they hope the population will use this as an opportunity to take advantage of the services available to them. KARM has not been at capacity, so there are beds available. Two VMC social workers are dedicated exclusively to helping the people who hang out under the overpass, and KARM and KPD have been talking to them about getting services.

This population sleeps outside. At the risk of sounding insensitive, they will be cold no matter where they sleep unless they go to a shelter. And construction won't take long, so the displacement is temporary. All they have to do is pave and fence the site, then bring in benches, picnic tables and portable toilets. This is a daytime space, not a camp for overnight sleeping.

michael kaplan's picture

Unfortunately, neither Mayor

Unfortunately, neither Mayor Rogero not Bill Lyons have yet answered my two questions. Many of those sleeping outdoors did not qualify for either KARM, VMC or Salvation Army housing.

Is Compass behind a paywall or is it available to those like me who - educated and politically active in the community - don't have the budget for online subscriptions?

Moon's picture

Compass, paywall

Quoted: "Is Compass behind a paywall or is it available to those like me who - educated and politically active in the community - don't have the budget for online subscriptions?"

From observation, I think public service is a part of Compass' mission. To that end, Compass has some static-ish community resources available on its website. However, I'm pretty sure that Compass is a commercial venture seeking to provide enough value to
keep its prices high enough to generate a profit for its owners.

I haven't heard anyone from Compass explicitly say that, so I could be wrong.

barker's picture


Thanks, Moon. Our philosophy is that good journalism has value and that it is not unreasonable to ask readers to pay for our coverage. We don't presently accept advertising, so subscriptions are our only revenue stream. Good, old-fashioned capitalism. In return, subscribers get a daily email Monday through Friday with content not on the website and access to our stories on the website. We hope to make the reading experience more pleasant as well -- no pop-up ads, no survey questions before reading stories, no auto-play videos. We think that's a pretty good deal for $10 a month. And yes, we would like to make a profit.

We do have some free content -- this week we moved our campaign coverage in front of the paywall so anyone can access it.

michael kaplan's picture

Good, old-fashioned

Good, old-fashioned capitalism.

Not really. "Good, old-fashioned capitalism" was when you could turn on an AM radio and hear news on the hour, every hour. There was advertising, of course, but it was not intrusive.

The New York Times owned two stations in New York City, WQXR-AM and WQXR-FM. There were news broadcasts, including local, every hour. And now and then both stations would 'simulcast' stereophonic broadcasts with FM on the left and AM on the right. And this was in the 1950s.

barker's picture


Well, there's nothing more purely capitalistic than offering a service (Compass news reports) and having those who use the service (our readers) pay for it. Those who find value in our reporting will pay for it; those who do not will get their local news elsewhere or not at all. Our job is to produce the best local news report we can so readers find value in the journalism. So far, Compass has been well received.

With radio you use a service (listening to the news) but somebody else pays for it (advertisers). That works for radio. That model doesn't work very well when it comes to online news sites. Google and Facebook consume 85 percent of online advertising dollars. And when we were conducting our research into business models, it was obvious that small independent local news sites have found advertising to be their biggest nightmare by far. Either they have trouble keeping staff to sell ads because it's not lucrative enough, or they spend much of their own time selling ads and not doing journalism. Jesse and I put in 12-16 hours a day as it is, and neither of us is a salesperson. An ad-free subscription service makes the most sense for us.

Knoxoasis's picture

Come clean Barker and just

Come clean Barker and just admit that your capitalism is why we have homelessness.

barker's picture


There are many causes for homelessness. An inadequate social safety net. A lack of affordable housing. Insufficient mental health and substance abuse treatment options. Low wage growth. And many more. I kinda doubt my desire to follow my calling to journalism and get paid enough to make a living from it is high on the list.

Alex_Falk's picture

knoxoasis isn't wrong, though

knoxoasis isn't wrong, though -- ignoring any 'personal' culpability on the part of any of us who live in this system, capitalism is the cause of homelessness.

JR01's picture

Sounds like your source was

Sounds like your source was (link...)

michael kaplan's picture

YouTube video on Knoxville homeless

michael kaplan's picture

here's another good video

There are hundreds of these videos on YouTube with millions of views. Eugene has built a 'tiny house' camp for 'qualified' homeless. Doesn't sound like a good solution (too expensive) but it's a creative start.

The 'designated safe parking lot' is interesting. Maybe a 'designated tent city' would be workable. there's some interesting discussion on why people hate the shelters.

In any case, the entire problem is a monumental example of the fruits of advanced capitalism.

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