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KINGSPORT — Four months ago, a volunteer committee in conjunction with the city of Kingsport began taking a renewed look at the homeless situation in town to see what needs are being addressed and how these efforts could be improved.
Since the committee first met in July though, the Model City has seen a rise in the number of homeless people in the downtown area — specifically Glen Bruce Park and the Kingsport Public Library — which has resulted in an increased security presence in both locations, city officials said last week. The committee — with representatives from the city, the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority, United Way, Kingsport City Schools and the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Kingsport — had discussed such homeless issues as food, housing and transportation and was brainstorming ideas on how to improve these services.
At a meeting last month, Mayor Dennis Phillips essentially handed the homeless initiative off to the United Way of Greater Kingsport, partly because of the homeless increase in Kingsport over the past few months.
“They’re more able to deal with the situation. Government is better at starting things and getting them in the right hands, and I don’t think we could give the time commitment needed and the expertise,” Phillips said.