‘It could be a very long meeting’

Public forum scheduled next Tuesday concerning homeless resource center

There will probably be a lot of questions asked — and hopefully answered — during a public forum with Tennessee Valley Coalition for the Homeless at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 16, in the Clinton Community Center.

Already there have been questions asked about the “drop in resource center” at 903 Clinch Ave. in South Clinton (the former iPawn building).

There have been some answers, but there has also been some miscommunication, and misrepresentation, bandied about.

A press release from TVCH on Feb. 25 stated, “This newest office will be a resource center that aids anyone who simply stops in and asks for help. This help includes job searches, life skills classes, hot meals three days a week, bagged lunches, housing assistance, utility assistance, and a food pantry. There will be case management on site, volunteers to assist with electronic applications for SNAP, SSI, and food pantry distribution.”

There has been a sort of miscommunication regarding the resource center. The press release was dated one day (Feb. 25) before the City of Clinton found out about the plans for the center to open, which was Feb. 26.

The release also noted, “The Drop-in Resource Center is a collaborative effort between Tennessee Valley Coalition for the Homeless, the County of Anderson, and the City of Clinton, several churches, businesses, and program sponsors to help combat homelessness. Volunteers and local businesses donate time and goods, including food, water, and services.”

The center was part of the discussion during a Jan. 14 “workshop” TVCH announced it was “working on” a resource center, or “warming center,” to conduct outreach, case management, teach life skills, provide training, and provide “some” meals at the 903 Clinch Avenue location.

At the Jan. 15 workshop the center is not a “shelter,” or “overnight facility.”

At least two city officials said they were disappointed with a Knoxville television station’s news report that aired last week talking briefly about the resource center then cutting directly to a homeless “tent city” and featured interviews with three homeless individuals who lived there.

The city has little recourse. The property is zoned B2 and the business is in line with zoning regulations.

TVCH has signed an 18-month lease on the property.

Clinton Mayor Scott Burton said the forum Tuesday will begin with TVCH administrators telling about the goals of the resource center, followed by a question and answer session and an opportunity for citizens to express concerns.

“You better eat before you come,” Mayor Burton said. “It could be a very long meeting.”