The one thing most experts in Knoxville agree on is that the problem has changed in the last 20 to 30 years.
"If you go back to the late 80’s, early 90’s there’s a lot of effort to make people comfortable on the street. Furnished soup, blankets, concern about where they would have bathrooms," Dr. Roger Nooe said.
►Watch | Out of the Shadows: A Sad Sight
Nooe helped write the book on homelessness in Knoxville. His annual report dates back to 1986 and marks the start of the modern effort to end homelessness in Knoxville.
In the mid-80s, homeless camps were scattered. From Broadway to buildings downtown, to Western Avenue and a string of camps along the railroad tracks, experts found homelessness spread out across the city. Flash forward 30 years and we find a much greater density of homeless in a small area near shelters along Broadway.
In 1986, the vast majority of the homeless were white men in their 30s to 40s. Almost 43 percent had served in the military. Many suffered from problems tied to alcohol but many also said they had a job. Lots of homeless people were on the move...transient. The total number of chronic homeless in any given month was 800.