At 4:30 a.m. Thursday, it was cold in Loudon County.
temperature may have been well below freezing, but people were found sleeping in unheated places -
public rest rooms, in tents and even in sleeping bags on the ground.
"We found eight people
in a few hours, and it wasn't even an organized count," Nicholas Sutter, housing retention
specialist with the Tennessee Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, said.
Sutter and Candice
Rutledge, homeless outreach coordinator for the Department of Veterans Affairs, walked streets in
Loudon County for several hours, assisted by local law enforcement officers, to locate homeless
people in Loudon County for the national Point-in-Time Count.
"We found people sleeping in
tents at two sites," Sutter said. "We offered to help and give them a place to go, but mostly they
didn't want help. Of course, it may have been because it was early morning and we startled
Some homeless individuals are desperately looking for help, however. And one managed
to elude the Thursday PIT Count.
On Jan. 2, Jimmy Lynn Mainor, 38, homeless, took four packs
of cigarettes from a convenience store and ran straight to a Loudon County Sheriff's Office deputy
to turn himself in.
Deputy Brad Rayfield said he was preparing to serve an arrest warrant at
another location when Mainor approached his patrol car.
"He said, 'Man, did you get the call
yet?' When Rayfield responded, "What call?" Mainor explained and admitted his crime.
Jimmy for years and I knew he moved around a lot," Rayfield said. "I thought he was hungry. I asked
him, 'Why didn't you steal food?' He told me he did it because he knew he would freeze to death if
he spent another night in his car. It was very cold that night - in the 20s."
dropped against Mainor and he was released. Then on Jan. 21 he vandalized a business by throwing a
brick through a window. According to arrest reports, Mainor told Deputy Jamie Ketner he had
vandalized a market on West Lee Highway because he was "cold and hungry and needed a place to
Mainor remains in jail on $5,000 bond.
Melanie Cordell, TVCEH director, said
she would not be surprised if actual homeless numbers in Loudon County were higher this year than
"You've had plant closures and ... TVCEH is trying our best to perform a strong
and accurate count across all 12 counties," she said. "We were not able to organize a street walk in
Loudon County and that is something required by HUD, even if the numbers are zero."
Samaritan Center counted homeless entered into the center's Homeless Management Information System
computer program, Paula Roach, GSC executive director, said. Cindy Purdy, family resource center
director with Loudon County Schools, counted the school' homeless population. IVAS Place, a shelter
for women and children who are victims of domestic violence, completed surveys.
surveys were to be returned to GSC after the count, a number was not available at presstime because
of closures and delays associated with Friday's winter storm.