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Student Basic Needs Guide

A comprehensive collection of the food, housing, and miscellaneous resources available on and off campus.

Public Services and Engagement Librarian

Profile Photo
Bokeuim Yeom
Pendergrass Agriculture & Veterinary Medicine Library

Guide Content By

Kay Hames

Pendergrass Library & School of Information Sciences
College of Communication and Information
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Content in this guide by Kay Hames is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Housing Insecurity Resources

Housing Resources

What Does it Mean to Experience Homelessness?

U.S. Legal Code §11302 states that a person experiencing homelessness is "an individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence." Legal Code §11302 details the various living situations that characterize individuals experiencing homelessness and how to qualify for federal assistance.

This includes individuals or families who primarily reside in a place not typically used as a place to sleep, such as 

  • "a car,
  • park,
  • abandoned building,
  • bus or train station,
  • airport, 
  • or camping ground."

Other living situations include,

  • living in a shelter,
  • hotel or motel,
  • couch surfing,
  • doubling up, 
  • fleeing domestic violence without a new permanent residence established (Cornell Law School)

Although many people understand homelessness to only include people living on the streets, anyone who has precarious or changing housing is experiencing a type of homelessness.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defined homelessness in four different categories...

  1. literally homeless
  2. imminent risk of homelessness
  3. homeless under other federal statutes
  4. fleeing/ attempting to flee domestic violence (HUD).

People become homeless for many different reasons, and our hope is this guide will help to destigmatize people experiencing homelessness. Some of the reasons individuals may experience homelessness include:

  • suffering an injury and being unable to work
  • coming out as an LGBTIQ+ person and being kicked out 
  • experiencing a mental health crisis
  • breadwinner of the family passing away
  • being a recently released inmate

A tent encampment on a sidewalk

Student Emergency Fund

  • Services Offered:  Limited, time-sensitive emergency funding. May be used to cover expenses such as: essential academic needs (e.g. books and supplies), food, replacement of personal items, emergency housing needs (e.g. securing short-term housing, security deposits, assistance with utilities, etc.), one-time/ non-reoccurring medical expenses, emergency expenses related to dependents (e.g. childcare).
  • How to Access:  Complete application on the Dean of Students emergency fund page. Must be a current UT Knoxville student. Using the student relief fund may impact current aid-year financial aid packages. If your aid will impact financial assistance, you will be contacted to discuss your options before funds are awarded.
  • Contact Information 
  • Link to their Website:

East Tennessee Human Resource Agency's (ETHRA) Emergency Housing Vouchers

  • Services Offered:  ETHRA offers services for independent living, nutrition, housing and utilities, employment support, transportation, judicial support, education and advocacy.
  • How to Access:  To apply, you must contact the Tennessee Valley Coalition to end Homelessness and apply for a voucher there OR if you are a victim of domestic abuse, you can apply at the YWCA Knoxville & The Tennessee Valley
  • Hours:  Monday through Friday 8am-4:30pm
    Closed Saturday & Sunday
  • Contact Information: 865-691-2551
  • Website Link:

Helen Ross McNabb Center, Children & Youth Emergency Shelter

  • Services Offered: Temporary housing for children who need immediate assistance and follow up case management services for children and their families
  • How to Access: Call their phone number to check availability and gather more information.
  • Contact Information:
    • phone number: 1-800-255-9711
    • crisis hotline: 865-539-2409
  • Website Link:

KnoxHMIS - Knoxville Homelessness Management Information Service
Partners with UT's College of Social Work and the Social Work Office of Research and Public Services (SWORPS)

  • Services Offered: 
    • Operates a collaborative database on homeless services.
    • Facilities the Coordinate Housing Assessment and Match Plan (CHAMP), which matches individuals with services and housing
    • Hosts and maintains Knox Housing Help
  • How to Access:  Contact them through email or phone, or visit their website
  • Contact Information:
  • Website Link:

YWCA Housing Program

  • Services Offered:  Transitional housing, financial education, parenting education, trauma informed care, support groups and classes for victims of domestic violence.
  • How to Access:  Fill out application process for the program you would like to enter, this may include meeting with a Transitional Housing Coordinator. Call their phone number for any questions or assistance you may need.
  • Hours:  The YWCA is open 24 Hours, however the staff for this service may have limited day time availability. Contact the YWCA for more information.
  • Contact Information: 865-523-6126
  • Website Link: