Last year, the Doorway Project, which placed pallet shelters for the homeless on the ball field at Pomona Park, was controversial.

Both the location – on the only ballfield in Greensboro built specifically for special needs children – and the expense of building a temporary village for homeless people were questioned with Councilmember Zack Matheny, being one of the prime opponents of the plan.

At the Tuesday, Oct. 17 meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to allocate $193,000 to the Interactive Resource Center for the pallet shelter project for this winter.

Matheny had a lot to say about the pallet shelter project, and the issue of providing housing for homeless people in general, but voted in favor of the motion to fund the pallet shelters for a second year.

Matheny said, “This is band-aid on what we are experiencing in our community right now. We’ve talked for over a year with partners in the county and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the situation has deteriorated rather than improved. This is one band-aid out of some more that we are probably going to do in the next few months. Meanwhile we lost another two unsheltered folks just in downtown alone in the last six weeks.”

Matheny continued, “So my concern is, we pass this band-aid, which I may or may not support, and we think we have done something, but it doesn’t take care of many people. I walked Center City Park today and the amount of people living in the park, whether they are in tents or otherwise, is incredible. Folks are living in front of our buildings. We are perpetuating this and making it worse. We are not making it better.”

Matheny said that he knew that in District 3, the district he represent, “It has gotten substantially worse.”

Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “This is a band-aid. We know that long term solutions are housing like the Regency and the Oaks, but we don’t have those. The units are not on line so we are forced to spend this money.”

Vaughan said, “We are spending this money on a one-time thing for the pallet shelters when we should be spending it on something else, but we are in a position where these are life and death decisions. So we have to move forward with this.”

Councilmember Tammi Thurm said, “We might as well say it, this is a county function this is not a city function, health and human services and those kinds of things, but until the pressure is on the county to do something, we are going to be in the same position.”