FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About KARM

1. What is the mission of KARM?

Our mission is to seek to rescue the poor and needy of the Knox area by providing recovery services in Jesus’ name.

2. When was KARM established?

A group of businessmen and ministers in the downtown community of Knoxville saw the need to feed hungry men coming into the city by train.  They purchased the Heska Amuna Synagogue on Fifth Avenue and opened a shelter for men in 1960.

3. What services are offered by KARM?

KARM provides meals; overnight, emergency and long-term shelter; and residential recovery services to the poor and homeless, victims of domestic violence, displaced families and disenfranchised men, women and children throughout the Knox area.  Services also include community meals three times a day, seven days a week, including holidays; job training; employment and educational assistance; counseling services; and rehabilitation programs.

4. How many meals does KARM serve a day?

KARM’s Communion Dining Hall serves nearly 1,000 meals daily.    KARM is the only provider in Knoxville that provides free breakfast, lunch and dinner.

5. How many people stay at KARM daily?

Nearly 400 people per night stay at KARM.  Our various housing options are listed below: 

  • Samaritan Place – Emergency overnight shelter for 200 men.
  • Hope Haven – Emergency overnight shelter for 103 single women.
  • Serenity – Residential addiction recovery program for 30 single women.  Serenity also provides housing for female graduates of the LaunchPoint program who are working their life plan to end their homelessness.  The residential recovery program for men is currently on pause while being revamped to provide greater services.
  • Family Shelter an emergency short-term residence for families with nowhere else to turn.
  • The Bridge Transitional Housing – a dorm-like setting for male graduates of the LaunchPoint  goal setting program able to shelter up to 35 men who are working their life plan to end their homelessness.

Privacy rules dictate that KARM cannot comment on the specifics of any client and/or services they may or may not have received. KARM always strives to be a safe haven for those who have no place else to go, therefore we maintain a strict policy of denying services to anyone who is a known sex offender. Men and women who seek shelter from KARM are checked against the Tennessee and National Sex Offender Registries. All persons listed in either registry are denied services at KARM. Further, KARM cooperates fully with law enforcement officials and does not knowingly harbor fugitives or anyone wanted for questioning by the authorities.

6. How is KARM funded?

The majority of KARM’s funding is from individual donations.  KARM is not a United Way agency, nor does it receive any direct federal or state funding.

7.  How can I become a volunteer for KARM?

Volunteers are vital to KARM’s programs and we welcome individuals and community groups to give their time and make a difference! For information about current and future volunteer opportunities at KARM please contact Volunteer Services at volunteer@karm.org or 865/673-6540 x190.

Homelessness in Knox County

1. Who are the homeless?
  • The Knox County homeless population includes families and individuals representing every race, age group and community in Knox County. Often, persons that experience homelessness are negatively portrayed as panhandlers asking for money. On the contrary, Knox County’s homeless population consists of working families and individuals. Many live in cars, parks, motels, homeless shelters and under bridges trying to maintain their dignity while they struggle to survive. As a result, most homeless remain hidden.
  • There are approximately 1,700 homeless persons in our area in any given month.
  • The percentage of the homeless population suffering from some form of mental illness or emotional problem is estimated to be 50%.
  • Drug use among homeless women has increased 35% over last year.
  • Currently, about 75% of the homeless are male and about 25% are female.
  • 40% of the homeless in Knox County are part of a family unit and approximately 15% of the homeless are under the age of 18.  This is the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in our community.
  • Of the children aging out of foster care, one-fourth will be homeless within one year.
2. How can you help the homeless situation in Knox County?
  • Show respect; a smile or eye contact can help break down the sense of isolation felt by the homeless. The human dignity you share when you show courtesy and respect can give someone the hope and strength they need to lift them out of a bad situation.
  • Become informed; learn about the homeless and their challenges. Volunteer your time or donate resources to local non-profit agencies serving the homeless, hungry and at-risk population.
  • Get involved in regional planning efforts that support and strengthen the system of care for Knox County’s homeless.
  • Network with other individuals, non-profit agencies, businesses, county agencies, and cities to share ideas and best practices on how to most effectively deal with the homeless situation in Knox County.
  • Understand that the affordable housing issues affect all of us and that your voice is needed to ensure that every member of our community has access to decent and affordable housing.
3. What is being done to ensure a brighter future for homeless in Knox County?

KARM works closely with local government and other providers to offer both a solution to homelessness and care for those who are currently living on the street. KARM actively pursues opportunities and partnerships with other organizations to enhance our services to homeless, unemployed men and women while building the capacity to reach out to people before they fall into homelessness.

4.  How does Knoxville’s homelessness situation compare to the rest of the country?

Knoxville participates in an annual Snapshot Survey by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM) regarding homelessness in North America.  For more information on survey results, contact info@karm.org.

5. For more information about homelessness in Knox County, visit the 2013-14 Homelessness Study Annual Report  HERE:

National Homelessness 

1. How many people are homeless in the United States?

According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), approximately three million men, women, and children are homeless each year in the United States.

2. Why do people become homeless?
  • Lack of affordable housing: today fewer than 30% of those eligible for low-income housing receive it.  Affordable housing means that a family is paying no more than 30% of their income for housing.
  • Lagging incomes: incomes from the poorest Americans have not kept pace with rising housing and medical costs. A missed paycheck, a health crisis, or an unpaid bill can push families over the edge into homelessness. Many people become homeless despite having a full-time job.
  • Cuts in services and government assistance: public funding for assistance services of all types continues to decrease nationally. Over 40% of homeless persons are eligible for disability benefits but only 11% actually receive them. Most families are eligible for welfare benefits but only 52% of them receive them.
  • Domestic violence: a woman and her children leaving an abusive relationship may have no resources independent from the batterer. With small children and minimal job experience, many women find it difficult to support an independent and safe life in the community.
  • Veterans:  veterans make up 26% of the homeless on any given day.  Veterans Affairs and Census Bureau reports show that 194,254 veterans are homeless every night and more than 11% of the newly homeless veterans are women.
3. What are the impacts of homelessness on children?

Homelessness places individuals, particularly children, under extreme stress. Homeless children manifest the same symptoms as children who are abused and neglected and exhibit more physical illness, mental disorders, major developmental delays, and poorer cognitive development than other children.

4.  Could you recommend other websites for more information?