Knoxville NAACP to Host Racial and Equity Housing Study Group

Racial & Equity Housing Study Group

Translating National Into Local Progressive Housing Policies

On Tuesday October 22 from 12PM – 1PM the KNAACP Housing Committee will host an informative study group at Clinton Chapel Church in Mechanicsville. ( 546 College St, Knoxville, TN 37921 )

US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has developed a national blueprint for equitable housing reform.  We will have a conversation about the different pieces of the national legislation and how we might move on them in Knoxville.

The bill includes rent control (banned by state law), provide counsel in tenant eviction hearings, ban landlords from discriminating against source of lawful rental payments, regulation of large landlords, influence zoning codes by tying to other investments, eliminate restrictions on accessing housing assistance (state mandated.)

Come and be ready for a lively conversation

Learn more about the bill here.

Knoxville Homeless Coalition presents 4th Annual Landlord Summit

Knoxville-Knox County Homeless Coalition presents the 4th Annual Landlord Summit

Knoxville, TN – Area landlords, tenants, case managers, and homeless and housing service providers are all welcome to join us for the Knoxville-Knox County Homeless Coalition’s 4th Annual Landlord Summit.  We will have speakers on topics ranging from Landlord/Tenant Law, Section 8 Housing, Neighborhood Codes Enforcement, Community Resource Navigation, Lead-Based Paint, Weatherization, and Cultural Competency Building.  Those in attendance can receive a certificate of attendance worth up to 6.0 hours.  Breakfast and lunch will be served with vegetarian options available.  Food is sponsored by ECHO, Knoxville’s Equality Coalition for Housing Opportunities.

WHO:          Area landlord, tenants, case managers, and homeless and housing service providers are all encouraged to register and attend.

WHAT:      Knoxville-Knox County Homeless Coalition is presenting the 4th Annual Landlord Summit.  Breakfast and lunch will be provided with vegetarian options available.  Attendees of the event will receive a certificate of attendance worth up to 6.0 hours.

WHERE:    CAC’s L.T. Ross Building located at 2247 Western Avenue, Rooms A & B.

WHEN:      Breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m. with the event beginning at 8:00 a.m. on October 17th, 2019.  The Summit is expected to last until approximately 3:00 p.m.

To register, visit our page at and search “Knoxville Knox County Homeless Coalition.”

Food Sponsored by:

Community Voices Forum Addresses Black Poverty and Gun Violence

Wednesday night’s Mayoral candidate forum brought a gathering of many East Knoxville residents to Honey Rock Victorious Church in the Burlington area.

Unlike many other candidate forums during election season, the Community Voices Coalition aims to address issues within the urban and African-American community.

Poverty, gun violence, affordable utilities and youth opportunities were among the issues addressed during the event.

Knoxville ranks among the highest of cities in the Southeast with a startling 42% of the Black population in Knoxville currently living in poverty.

This tops other cities such as Memphis, Chattanooga and Atlanta.

Gun Violence is also starkly disproportionate in Knoxville with African-Americans making up the majority of shooting victims in both homicides and non-fatal incidents despite the low Black population in the city.

Mayoral candidates Eddie Mannis and Indya Kincannon both took strong stances on the issues addressed and made promises to be proactive if elected in addressing the disparities within the African-American community as well as concerns within urban Knoxville.

“I think that the black community, especially East Knoxville, should be tired of lip service from politicians,” Mannis said.

Mannis who told his personal story about knowing what it’s like to grow up on food stamps as well as receiving the infamous pink KUB door tag before starting his prosperous business took a relative approach to the plight of many Black Knoxvillians.

Indya Kincannon sighted her 10 years of experience on Knox county’s school board and Project GRAD as being a champion of programs which have directly helped East Knoxville and urban youth.

“I was a champion for Project Grad, I was a champion for Title I schools, I was a champion for extending more opportunities for youth,” she said.

At the end of the forum audience members asked questions of the candidates. One of those questions being

“How can the Black community trust you and assure you are going to do what it takes to adresss and improve the disparities African-Americans are facing in Knoxville?”.

Both candidates assured that they would make efforts to bring change and promised to meet with the Community Voices Coalition within 45 days of being elected to office as well as meeting quarterly to address goals and objectives.

SEEED (Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development), a nonprofit organization with a proven track record for effective community engagement, along with Community Voices Coalition sponsored the forum and hopes to continue with their Community Issues Survey to prioritize issues and determine specific action, changes, or improvements to address them.

The survey is developed in collaboration with residents and organizations based in the inner-city.

Once a new Mayor is elected you can be certain that SEEED and the Community Voices Coalition will hold them accountable because without a prosperous inner-city the statistics aren’t a reputable look for Knoxville.

To have a Knoxville for All equity must be addressed and improved.

Angela Dennis is a Writer and Editor residing in Knoxville. Her work has been featured in multiple publications such as Knox News Sentinel, Blavity, Black Girl Nerds, and more.

Democrat Renee Hoyos Announces Second Run for Congress in 2020

Yesterday Renee Hoyos announced her second run for Congress in 2020.

After being defeated in 2018 by 2nd District Rep. Tim Burchett she feels that her district is changing and that East Tennessee communities are moving to the left.

If elected in 2020 she would become the very first Democrat to ever represent East Tennessee in the House of Representatives.

“Our district is changing. It’s moved towards the Democratic party in the past five election cycles,” Hoyos said in a Tuesday statement.

Hoyos receieved more votes than any Democrat in the district’s history which is fuel for her to launch her second campaign.

She grew up in Northern California where she earned two degrees from the University of California at Davis and moved to Tennessee in 2003 when she began working as Executive Director for the Tennessee Clean Water network.

She is proud of the fact that her campaign is funded by people and not Pacs and feels that the issues many East Tennesseans see as a priority are not being tackled by the current administration.

Renee Hoyos campaign website can be reached at

Cyntoia Brown to Host First Public Appearance in Nashville Since Release

Cyntoia Brown will be making her first public appearance at a sold out event on Oct. 23rd at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville to talk about her new memoir, “Free Cyntoia.”

Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System will be released on October 15

Purchase here

She will also make a public appearance in New York at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Cyntoia Brown spent 15 years behind bars and was released from prison in August after former Mayor Bill Haslam granted her clemency of her conviction for killing a man who bought her for sex when she was 16 years old.

Since her release she has been enjoying her life and basking in the freedom she so rightfully deserved along time ago.

“I am loving every single thing about being in my own home,” Brown said in a statement to NBC News.  

“Being able to cook for myself and decide how I want to spend my day feels amazing,” the 31-year-old’s statement to NBC News said. “Those simple pleasures that people take for granted are what I looked forward to when I sat in prison dreaming of freedom.”

Brown will remain on parole for 10 years. Conditions of her parole include that she maintain employment or educational enrollment and that she participate in regular counseling sessions. 

She earned her degree while incarcerated from Lipscomb College and also got married to Christian Rapper J. Long while in prison.

Cyntoia Brown’s event on October 23rd is sold out but a wait list can be found at

Knoxville’s Black Poverty Rate is #1 in Southeast

We’re Number 1 (and that’s a problem)

US News and World Report crunched some numbers earlier this year to determine the “125 Best Places to Live” in the USA.  Factoring in scores for “desirability, value, quality of life, net migration, and job market,”  Knoxville landed at 46 on the list.  The ranking was high enough to earn this horn-blowing headline in the Knoxville News-Sentinel:

“We already know Knoxville is a great place to live, but this makes it official.”

OK civic boosters and Chamber types, here’s your trigger warning/buzzkill alert….  The headline begs the question: Great place for whom?

Don’t get me wrong – I love my hometown.  But I suspect the city I love and the city on this list are mostly two different cities.

46 is a decent ranking for the above list, but when it comes to equity, Knoxville has a numbers problem.

The first problematic number is 42.  That refers to Knoxville’s African-American poverty rate, at 42%.  It seems most folks would agree that more than 2 out of 5 African American Knoxvillians in poverty is definitely not great, but hey – it could be worse, right? 

Well, worse than where?  As it turns out, indicates Knoxville’s African American poverty rate is the worst of all cities over 100,000 population in the Southeastern U.S.  Worse than Memphis.  Worse than New Orleans.  Worse than Jackson, Mississippi (Tennesseans usually find our state in second-last place in most state rankings of social and economic well-being. Now we can no longer say “Thank God for Mississippi.”).

The next problematic number is 17.  That refers to the percentage of Knoxville’s population who are African American, at 17%.  The problem here is of course not the population itself, but the wildly disproportionate threats to the well-being of the 1/6 of Knoxvillians who are Black.

Gun violence may be the most egregious example. If gun deaths by race were anything like Knoxville’s Black-White population ratio, the 12 gun deaths of Blacks reported by KPD so far this year would correlate to around 72 Whites killed by guns so far this year.  The reality is that only one White person has been killed by a gun in Knoxville so far this year.

Since well before Zaevion Dobson’s heroic yet fatal act in 2015 put a national spotlight on the scourge of Knoxville gun violence, never have more Whites than Blacks been killed by guns in Knoxville (and this kind of gross inequity is not unique to Knoxville). This doesn’t just turn equity on its head.  It grabs equity by its ankles and shakes it senseless.

An historic survey of 699 inner city Knoxville residents last spring confirmed that gun violence is overwhelmingly the most critical issue facing this community – from the standpoint of this community.  Given the above numbers, the coalition of grassroots groups who conducted the survey invited those respondents back to a series of forums to brainstorm fresh program and policy approaches to more effectively deal with gun violence, as well as lack of youth opportunities, unaffordable utilities, and police-community relations – all identified by the survey as top issues.  These new ideas on how to turn around some of those problem numbers have been assembled into the “Community Voices Equity Framework” – a set of 12 program and policy proposals that the Community Voices Coalition will present at its October 9 mayoral candidate forum.  The goal of the Coalition at the forum is to secure a commitment from the next mayor to partner with the coalition on making the Equity Framework a reality.

The point of working to make the Equity Framework a reality is to make it official: “Knoxville is a great place to live – for all.”

Knoxville Gun Homicides

2015 32 34 66
2017 25 47 72
2018 16 49 65
2019         (to date) 41             (+1 HISP) 87 128

Knoxville Non-Fatal Shootings

2015 4 14 18
2017 9 17 26
2018 3 13 16
2019      (to date) 1 (+1 HISP) 12 14

Source KPD


Rick Held is the Director of Community Engagement at the non-profit group Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development (SEEED) in Knoxville.      



Public Meeting on Use of Chilhowee Park and Expo Center Oct 16


What:  Public meeting to review recommendations on possible future uses of Chilhowee Park and Exposition Center.

When:  6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019

Where:  Jacob Building, Chilhowee Park

Who:  Representatives of a consulting team headed by Convention Sports and Leisure International (CSL) will present their recommendations after gathering input throughout the year from a wide variety of stakeholders and a thorough review of City-owned facilities

In late 2018, Mayor Madeline Rogero’s administration and City Council asked for a strategic study of possible future uses of Chilhowee Park and Exposition Center.

At a 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16 public meeting at the Jacob Building, the team of consultants that has been gathering input and analyzing the park’s many potentials for the past nine months will present its recommendations on ways to better utilize the 81-acre park.

Chilhowee Park and Exposition Center serves as home to the Tennessee Valley Fair each fall and to The Muse and Golden Gloves Charities year-round. Adjacent to Chilhowee Park is the 53-acre Zoo Knoxville, the city’s top attraction, which welcomed 512,112 visitors in 2018 and set a new attendance record for the fourth consecutive year.

The consulting team was led by nationally-renown Convention Sports and Leisure International (CSL). The team included local firms Design Innovation Architects and CRJA Landscape Architects as well as Sizemore Group, Atlanta-based strategic planners.

The team in February met with tenants and stakeholders and held a community meeting. Existing facilities were thoroughly reviewed, and historic uses of buildings and the grounds were studied. About 2,000 people then completed online surveys in June.

The aim was to analyze the current uses of Chilhowee Park and existing market conditions, then to develop a strategic business and facility plan.

Three years ago, CSL followed a similar approach to complete a market and feasibility study that outlined options for the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum. That was the first step in a process that resulted in the City investing $10 million in KCAC upgrades.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or LEP (Limited English Proficient) and want to request interpretation services, please contact Title VI Coordinator Tatia M. Harris at or 865.215.2831. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation to attend, contact the City’s ADA Coordinator, Stephanie Brewer Cook, at 865.215.2034 or at least 72 hours before the meeting.


Tenncare to Hold Meeting Today at Burlington Library on Medicaid Block Grant

Rep. Gloria Johnson will attend today’s meeting and will be available for comment.



NASHVILLE—Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart says he hopes Governor Bill Lee and his staff will pay attention to the needs of citizens who appear at his public hearings on his block grant proposal, but he is afraid their concerns will be ignored. 

Yesterday, the Governor began holding town hall meetings in the state’s three grand divisions to hear feedback on his request that the Trump administration gives Tennessee a “lump sum” block grant and allow the state determine how it handles Medicaid payments without federal oversight.  The Nashville Democrat says the plan is just another Republican “scheme” to deny health services to the neediest Tennesseans: 

“The stated goal of this proposal to save the state millions in healthcare costs.  Who do we think will be the first people to have their medical needs cut to save money?  It’ll be those in nursing homes.  It’ll be children and people with disabilities. It’ll be those least able to absorb the costs.  Right now, these citizens are guaranteed health coverage; with Governor Lee’s plan, that guarantee disappears.” 

Today’s meeting in Knoxville will be held in the Community Meeting room of the Burlington Branch of the Knox County Library, 4614 Asheville Highway at 2:30 p.m.


Mayoral Candidates to Hear Inner City Voices Speak Out on Gun Violence, Youth and Utilities



It won’t be your typical candidate forum.

On Wednesday, October 9, the two candidates for Knoxville mayor will hear the personal stories of inner city residents directly affected by gun violence, lack of youth opportunities, and unaffordable utilities.

As the culmination of 9 months of door-to-door canvassing and three public forums, the Community Voices Coalition will present those stories and a set of program and policy proposals to the two mayoral candidates and ask to partner with the next mayor on making those proposals happen. Both candidates for Mayor of the City of Knoxville have confirmed their attendance.

Last spring’s historic Community Voices Survey of 699 inner city residents has become the basis for the Community Voices Equity Framework – a set of program and policy proposals developed by the residents most directly affected by and working on the issues raised in the survey. 

“During an election year, the voices of many inner-city residents are not often heard from in an organized, unified way. This forum intends to change that.” said Tanisha Baker, a member of Five Points Up, one of the prominent East Knoxville community groups collaborating on the development and distribution of the surveys and organizing of the candidate forum. 

The Community Voices Coalition is a partnership of non-profit, non-government agencies, churches, and individuals based in the Heart of Knoxville, who are working together to empower inner city residents to understand and collectively address issues they self-identify to be priority concerns in their communities.

The Community Voices Mayoral Candidate Forum will be held Wednesday, October 9, 6 – 7:30 pm, at Honey Rock Victorious Church, located at 4101 Holston Drive.


Contact: Rick Held                                                                                                            

Tel. 865.936.4492