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$1.8M federal grant for Knoxville homeless youth support
Published September 22, 2023; 2:19 p.m.

KNOXVILLE - This week, the Knoxville-Knox County Continuum of Care (CoC) received $1,823,342 in funding through the federal Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) to prevent and end youth homelessness in Knoxville.

“Young people who have experienced homelessness were instrumental in our community receiving these funds. We would not have received this grant without their leadership and collaboration,” says Shawn Griffith, who managed the grant application on behalf of the CoC. CoC is an umbrella term for the multiple governmental and social-service entities that work on homelessness issues within Knox County.

“It’s critical that young people who have been homeless or at-risk of homelessness participate in the community’s response to their needs,” says Griffith, who is now a staff member of the new Knoxville Knox County Office on Housing Stability. “Young people can face challenges not currently addressed by our community’s homeless service system.”

Griffith credits the participation of the Youth Action Board (YAB), a group of local youth with experiences of homelessness, for a winning grant submission.

“Their willingness to be active leaders, tell their stories, and get out into the community made the difference in this winning grant application. I’m excited to work alongside YAB members to put these funds to work in the ways they’ve helped identify,” he says.

Several YAB members assisted in coordination of the April 2023 Youth Point in Time (PIT) count to identify the number, location and needs of young people ages 18-24 who are experiencing homelessness. This can include people sleeping on the street, in their cars or “couch-surfing.”

“Youth participation in the Homeless Coalition has been key in helping the CoC identify gaps in services that contribute to the increase of youth homelessness,” says Griffith.

The YAB is an active sub-committee of the Coalition, and members serve on multiple other committees to ensure that youth voices and concerns are integrated into activities that address a wide range of homeless service and prevention activities.

This funding will help Knoxville build systems to end youth homelessness through a variety of programs that could include rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing, host homes, and innovative experimental models. The funds may also support youth-centered services, housing supports, youth-focused performance measurement and youth-specific coordinated entry systems.

The two-year grant is renewable annually under the CoC program.

Knoxville’s CoC is one of 16 communities throughout the United States that received the YHDP designation. The total allotment of funding between all selected communities is a total of $60 million.

Please visit for more details on the City’s investments and strategies in preventing homelessness and providing services for people experiencing homelessness.


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