Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston and several other commissioners recently expressed their concerns over the speed at which the City of Greensboro was using federal money meant to help address homelessness in the county.

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Alston are both laser-focused on addressing the issue of homelessness in Greensboro and Guilford County right now – but that hasn’t stopped the two from disagreeing on the best methodology.

The issue came up recently at the Guilford County Board of Commissioners annual retreat at Bur-Mil Clubhouse in Greensboro.

The money in question comes from programs begun during the COVID-19 pandemic meant to help people who were struggling to pay rent due to the economic consequences of the pandemic. The federal grant money came to Guilford County and part of it has been distributed to Greensboro for the city to address the problem of evictions, which of course lead to more homelessness.

“I want to put a footnote out there that I am not very happy with this process,” Alston said at the retreat on Friday afternoon, March 19, after a staff report on homelessness.  “People out there are being evicted and they are patiently waiting.”

Alston said the city has “an exorbitant amount of applications.”

“We need to do something sooner rather than later,” he said. “or we need to bring it back in-house and do it ourselves. I don’t think the city is getting it done like they are supposed to.”

Guilford County is also handling applications.  The county is currently reviewing 1,300 applications from all over Guilford County and is spending about $600,000 to $700,000 a week.  By the end of August, the county’s funds are likely to be exhausted, though there’s a chance the county may get additional money for the program.

Guilford County Commissioner James Upchurch also stated at the meeting that he had concerns about the city’s speed in getting the payments out.

“I agree with the chairman  that this has been an issue  for quite a while now,” Upchurch said.  “I think this is unacceptable and I would like to see some action taken by them to speed up this process.”

Other commissioners expressed similar concerns at the meeting as well.

This isn’t the first time the board has complained: Alston, at a Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday, Jan. 6, went into what can only be called a “rant” in which he said it appears that the City of Greensboro doesn’t care about fighting evictions because the city had not at that time accessed $10 million in federal funds that Guilford County government had for the city to prevent evictions.

Later, Alston said it had largely been a misunderstanding, and both Alston and Vaughan seemed to be in agreement about the progress of the payments.

However, on Friday, March 19, at the retreat, Alston and other board members were once again expressing their concerns.

After being told of the commissioners discussion, Vaughan said that the city was doing a good job of getting that money to those who need it.

“I checked with our providers,” Vaughan said.  We are turning the checks around based on the scheduled we developed,” the mayor said.  “My understanding is that DSS [The Guilford County Department of Social Services] has the slowest turnaround rate.”