The City of Greensboro spends about $10 million a year on the homeless population, according to an op-ed piece in the News & Record by Greensboro City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba.
Jaiyeoba actually stated that Greensboro has spent over $32 million since 2020, but rounding that to $10 million a year seems fair. The numbers are hard for an outsider to put together since money for the homeless population is spent out of many different accounts. But, of course, as city manager, Jaiyeoba has that information at his fingertips.
Any way you look at it, that’s a lot of money, and it doesn’t appear that much has been accomplished for $32 million.
According to the annual point-in-time count, there were 452 homeless people in Guilford County on Jan. 25, 2023. It seems unlikely that all of those people were in Greensboro, but assuming that they were, and rounding the amount spent to $10 million a year, that means the city has been spending over $22,000 apiece per year on homeless people in Greensboro.
This does not count the money that Guilford County or High Point spends on the 452 homeless people in Guilford County. According to Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston, Guilford County spends about $1 million a year just housing the homeless in hotels.
It also doesn’t count the money spent by nonprofit organizations and churches on helping the homeless population.
So, the amount of money spent on the homeless in Guilford County is actually much higher than the $10 million a year that the City of Greensboro spends. But when you consider $10 million a year for 452 people, it would appear ending homelessness in Greensboro would be a simple matter of better spending that money.
The average apartment rent in Greensboro is about $1,000 a month, or $12,000 a year, according to apartments.com, which means the City of Greensboro could rent an apartment at the current market rate for each homeless person in Guilford County for $5.4 million and have $4.6 million to pay other expenses.
But it’s actually better than that because, according to the point-in-time count, the 452 people represented 371 households. So, the city would have nearly $27,000 to spend on each household each year, which means the city could rent each homeless household an apartment at market rate for a year for only $4.5 million, giving the city $5.5 million to provide for other necessities.
The current policies and spending on the homeless spend a lot of money for hotel rooms and a lot of money for non-profit organizations, such as the Interactive Resource Center (IRC), to work with the homeless. If the goal is provide permanent housing for the homeless population, it doesn’t appear to be working. But a lot of people are being paid with tax dollars, either directly or indirectly, to provide services for homeless people.
Jaiyeoba also notes that the city has spent $3 million on the Regency Inn. Jaiyeoba lists this as part of what the city is doing to assist the homeless, but the Regency Inn is an example of the opposite.
The City Council allocated $3 million in 2021 to purchase the Regency Inn. But this was actually a “loan” to a nonprofit to buy the Regency Inn. It is officially a loan, but it is a no-interest forgivable loan, which means that along with not paying interest, the $3 million doesn’t have to be paid back, which is actually more of a grant than a loan. But what Jaiyeoba doesn’t mention is that two years later not a single person is being housed at the Regency Inn.
If the Regency Inn ever does house homeless people, the cost will be astronomical. The estimate in 2021 was that the project to house 57 homeless people would cost $13 million. That’s over $228,000 for each person. The $13 million doesn’t include providing the residents with water, electricity, heat, food or services.
According to housing sites, a 1,000-square-foot home in Greensboro can be built for about $100,000, and the City Council didn’t balk at spending $228,000 per room to house homeless people.
It does, however, explain how the City of Greensboro can spend $10 million a year on homeless people and not manage to put people in homes.