Rural homeless conference set for Oak Ridge

The Tennessee Valley Coalition for the Homeless (TVCH) has developed the Rural Homeless Institute (RHI), the data center arm of TVCH, for generating best practices to reduce the frequency and duration of homelessness in rural communities.

The Rural Homeless Institute is pleased to announce the first ever Rural Homeless Conference on June 19, 2019 at the Pollard Technology Conference Center in Oak Ridge.

The theme of this conference is Connected by Hope: The Reality of Rural Homelessness. National speakers from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, The Rural Assembly, and The National Health Care for the Homeless Council will represent a few of the organizations sharing ideas for strengthening the capacity of rural systems and communities.

The rural poor do not line up at the local shelter each evening or stand at the street corner with a cardboard sign – their suffering is different, it is characterized by isolation, anonymity, and a complete lack of resources.

We cannot continue to apply strategies designed for large concentrations of homeless individuals in urban settings to those living in campers without electricity, in dilapidated tobacco barns, and in backwoods encampments.

On June 19, 2019, organizers are gathering those who are passionate about serving these invisible poor– homeless advocates, case managers, pastors, volunteers, health care providers, food pantries, clothing closets, people of color, people of faith – all those who want to develop and implement fresh ideas for securing housing, health care, and human rights for those in rural poverty. This conference is geared toward empowering rural Tennesseans.

The goals of RHI are to build the intellectual capital around solutions to rural homelessness; test outcomes of research through pilot projects; advance data and research so that policymakers, practitioners, and communities have the best information about trends in rural homelessness and emerging solutions; and engage the media to promote the proliferation of solid data and information on rural homelessness.

“Geographic isolation is one of the many unique obstacles rural Americans face when it comes to shelter, healthcare, food, transportation, and mainstream services. Rural communities have disproportionately higher poverty rates and more chronic conditions. I know I’m painting a bleak picture here, but there are many positive examples of resiliency and creativity. This conference will bring hope to Rural Tennessee, bringing fresh ideas and learning from each other’s successes,” said Melanie Cordell, founder of the Rural Homeless Institute.