l-r; Michael Covington, Councilwoman Seema Singh-Perez andHubert Smith Photos submitted

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — Beginning in October, a series of town hall meetings will be held in each section of Knoxville and central downtown. The goal: to listen to what the community says needs to be done about the need for more affordable housing in Knoxville and Knox County. 

The city has seen unprecedented growth over the last few years. The downtown area has been revived with apartments and condos being leased as fast as they are  renovated or built. The city is drawing  new business and developers and is listed on the 2018 Forbes list as number 94 on the nations best places for business and careers. Yet for all its growth, affordable housing for many of its citizens remains unattainable.

It is those citizens whose voices will be heard over the coming months as the non profit organization: I AM The Voice of The Voiceless teams up with councilwoman Seema Singh-Perez to let the people speak. Those first voices to be heard  about their housing needs are  those of grandparents raising their grandchildren and in some cases, their great grandchildren, those who work with housing for those released from jail and prison, the homeless, youth aging out of foster care, and those in the different housing areas who will share affordable housing information.

The townhall meetings have been deemed  quiet conversations over coffee and tea and the panel will listen and answer questions from the attendees thru a question vetting system which will be hosted by Hubert Smith, host of  Community Televisions, “One on One with Hubert Smith” and the Hubert Smith radio show on Talk Radio 92.3 FM. Michael Covington, who will also moderate is a local businessman and host of  the monthly East Knoxville Community Meetings.

The panels and discussions will change as the townhall meetings move about the city. A survey brochure has been developed and will also be used to gather the suggestions of the citizens around the city to get an idea of what is needed by the people who live in Knoxville and not just future citizens.

The first townhall meeting is scheduled for October 8th and will be held at St Luke’s Episcopal Church at 600 South Chestnut Street beginning at 7 pm.