It’s still hot outside, but September is arriving and the winter of 2023 will be here before you know it.

This next winter will provide a good indication of how effective the plans of Guilford County, the cities of Greensboro and High Point, and many community organizations have been in addressing the problem of homelessness in Guilford County.

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston, early in 2023, set the no doubt overly ambitious goal of getting every homeless person in the county off the streets before the weather turns cold this year.  While that may not be possible, the area’s local governments and a host of community partners are, for the first time, making a wholesale, coordinated and comprehensive effort to address the problem – and even eventually eliminate it.

Alston said this week that Guilford County is making real progress but there are a lot of moving parts that are taking time.  He said one key part of the county’s plan is converting a former nursing home at 1411 Lee’s Chapel Road into a drug rehab center.

Alston said the county is in the process of closing on the purchase of the building but a lot remains unknown.

“It’s going well, but there are still some questions,” he said, adding that there are many discussions as to who’ll run the program, what the criteria for entry will be and a slew of other details.

That’s just one element of the county’s plan, which Alston said includes a wholistic approach by addressing drug addiction, providing more transitional housing, dealing with mental illness and a lot of other strategies.

The cities of Greensboro and High Point have been making similar moves in the battle.  Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan said the city is currently working diligently on the problem.

Last winter, the city put up pallet homes – temporary pop-up small housing units for the homeless – and it’s a strategy that will be used again this coming winter.

“That was highly successful,” Vaughan said of the program, adding that the city plans to add more temporary pallet units than before.

The mayor said the goal, however, is obviously to find long-term solutions – and one thing that will help in that regard is providing more accessible low-income housing in the city.

Vaughan said the City of Greensboro had been making grants to homebuilders who were willing to provide the type of housing needed to address homelessness.

Vaughan added that it’s great to see Guilford County government now joining in on the battle.  Until about four years ago, homelessness was not something the county ever focused on.  That wasn’t because of apathy but instead because that particular problem was considered to be solidly in the wheelhouse of the cities and community organizations.

But that has clearly changed and Vaughan said that’s a very good thing.

“The county is buying a building to help address the problem and that is a big sign the county is taking it seriously,” she said, adding that the county’s efforts are proving to be very helpful.