The Greensboro City Council approved a motion to spend $535,000 on “Pallet House” units at a special meeting on Monday, Oct. 10 in the Katie Dorsett Council Chamber.

The motion to approve the sole source contract with Pallet PBC Inc. for $535,000 passed on a 7-1 vote with Councilmember Zack Matheny voting no and Councilmember Yvonne Johnson absent.

According to the agenda, the $535,000 is for the contract with Pallet PBC for 40 units with two single beds in each unit, but is not the total cost of the project because it does not include the bathroom facilities or the large community room that several city councilmembers asked to have included.  The city has named the program, “The Doorway Project.”

Housing and Neighborhood Development Director Michelle Kennedy said that the units are typically placed 6 to 15 feet apart and that one quarter acre lot would be needed for the 40 units.  The units are insulated, heated and air conditioned and, at an additional cost of about $100,000 each, shared bathroom units will be provided for each 40 people.

Councilmember Sharon Hightower said that the Continuum of Care organizations needed to be involved in making this decision and were not.

Councilmember Tammi Thurm said, “Quite frankly, I’ve been waiting five years for the Continuum of Care to do something.  If we waited for the Continuum of Care to take action we will be waiting until next year.”

Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said that the City Council was always accused of not doing anything. She said, “If we do this, at least someone will not die of the city streets of Greensboro because we failed to make a decision today.”

Councilmember Goldie Wells said, “I know it sounds like a lot of money and we don’t have all the answers, but we sit here night after night and move items that are millions of dollars and think nothing of it.  I’m totally in favor of going forward with this.”

Matheny who cast the lone no vote, said that he still had a lot of questions about the program and thought that lower cost options for temporarily housing the homeless population had not been explored.