New non-traditional emergency shelter coming to North Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A new emergency shelter is coming to town that may be able to accommodate Knoxville's homeless population.

The Salvation Army and the Volunteer Ministry Center partnered up to offer a non-traditional overnight emergency center that fits around 40 to 45 individuals.

The facility would be in place of the old Salvation Army Thrift Store, just across from Knox Area Rescue Ministries.

The emergency center will be called "The Foyer" and offers the homeless a place that's a little bit different from KARM.

"It's built around safety first and foremost, as opposed to rule compliant" said Bruce Spangler, CEO for the Volunteer Ministry Center.

The Foyer will be "safety compliant," meaning people will not face drug and alcohol testing and there are no income requirements.

That does not mean there will be no rules or exceptions of shelter participants, it just means they hope others use the shelter space in a respectful manner.

The new shelter doesn't compete with KARM, but acts as a place for homeless to go if they are addicts, have pets or are a couple, Spangler says.

"We need something, KARM's constantly at capacity or beyond" Tommy Halcomb said. He's volunteered with Lost Sheep Ministries for about 13 years and has seen the homeless population all along.

City council approved a first reading of a measure that would give Volunteer Ministry Center $245,000. It still needs to go through a second reading in two weeks.

Volunteer Ministry Center hopes to finish the project by the end of the summer.