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Portable showers to encourage homeless to seek permanent housing

Volunteer Ministry Center hopes the showers can help unhoused people with hygiene, offer emotional support and get them in contact with case workers.
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 5:52 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 3, 2021 at 6:19 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Volunteer Ministry Center CEO Bruce Spangler said their mission is to end homelessness in Knoxville by connecting people experiencing homelessness to affordable housing or shelters. VMC hopes the showers can help with hygiene, offer emotional support, and help get people in contact with case workers to get them into permanent housing.

“The root of the issue is the lack of affordable housing. Without housing, you can’t be healthy. Admittedly, some people may not be as effective in housing because of some issues,” said Spangler.

Spangler said mental health, disabilities, and other hardships make it hard for their workers to reach people who may want to live outside in a homeless camp. The group received more than a $300,000 federal grant to operate portable showers to be used along Cooper Street in downtown Knoxville.

“Showers provide a point of contact for street outreach workers. We offer it unconditionally, and at the same time we try to be a benevolent nuisance,” said Spangler.

Workers can show the people staying at the campsite that they have other options to stay and received services. Spangler added they are building a new permanent housing option with 48 apartments that will be open in September.

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