The topic the Greensboro City Council discussed the longest at the Tuesday, March 7 meeting was once again the homeless population.

The discussion began with Councilmember Zack Matheny noting that in the past two weeks two homeless men have died on the streets downtown. He said, “We don’t need to do better. We’ve got to do something.”

Matheny said, “Fundamentally health and human services are the responsibility of the folks across the plaza.  It is a county function.”

He added, “I believe that as a city we have invested above and beyond what any city in the country has done.”  Matheny said that since 2016, Greensboro had spent about $100 million in an attempt to help the homeless population.  He asked, “What do we have to show for this investment.”

Councilmember Sharon Hightower, who is on the Continuum of Care (COC) and the Homeless Task Force, said, “Government moves slowly, period.”

According to the Guilford County website: “The Guilford County Continuum of Care (Guilford CoC) is the planning body in Guilford County, North Carolina that coordinates the community’s policies, strategies and activities toward ending homelessness.”

Matheny responded, “Tell us the process.  If I see someone in need, what do I do?”

Councilmember Tammi Thurm said, “We asked that question two years ago and there was no answer then and there is no answer now.”

She said, “I understand that the Homeless Task Force is working on a big plan and it takes time, but what do we do in the interim?”

Thurm added, “We need a response other than we are waiting for the Homeless Task Force to come up with an answer.”

Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “We’ve been running around doing shelter things when we should be doing housing things.”

She said, “When we invest money in temporary shelters, we are taking it away from long term housing.”

Vaughan added, “The fact is, when I ask questions I don’t get answers from the COC. We need to get an update on who is doing what.”

Hightower defended the COC and the Homeless Task Force and said the key was “coordinated entry.”  She said, “We’ve got to look at something long term. Something sustainable.”

Thurm said, “Coordinated entry doesn’t work if the requests for help are ignored.”