This entire week – Monday,, Nov. 13 to Friday, Nov. 17– has been declared by Guilford County as a week to raise awareness of hunger and homelessness in the county, and county leaders are taking the opportunity to emphasize everything the county is doing to address those two problems in 2023.
First and foremost, county officials note, is the work of the Guilford County Homelessness Taskforce, which was established in November of last year.
The Taskforce brings together Guilford County commissioners, elected leaders from the cities of Greensboro and High Point, and staff from area community partners – to form the Guilford County “Continuum of Care,” a group that works together to address homelessness in the county.
The Taskforce includes a Tri-Chair set-up, with Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughn and High Point Councilwoman Monica Peters leading the group.
Alston has made addressing homelessness a priority for Guilford County government in 2023; and, recently, he publicly called out county staff for not moving fast enough to address the problem of homelessness.
However, in a Tuesday, Nov. 14 press release Alston acknowledged that progress was being made.
“The County Commissioners and our partners in Greensboro and High Point are working together as One Guilford to address hunger and homelessness in our community by standing up additional shelter beds, new housing, expanded treatment options, and more healthy food resources across Guilford County,” Alston stated in the release. “By supporting the whole person, we can help individuals and families address the root causes of their experience with homelessness and food insecurity and support them as they work to become stably housed and self-sufficient. We are underway with several significant projects and are building a strategic framework to help guide this work to promote housing and food stability for all residents for years to come.”
The press release also pointed to a host of other actions the county is taking to address homelessness.
For instance, in the past year, Guilford County allocated $8 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money for projects that address homelessness in Guilford County, including the following:
- $3.4 million for the acquisition of property to create a residential recovery services facility for Guilford County residents to continue treatment for substance abuse and support transition into housing.
- $2 million toward the creation of a Center for Hope and Healing in the City of High Point.
- $1 million for Guilford County Continuum of Care including funding for Partners Ending Homelessness ($372,000), YWCA ($223,000), Room at the Inn ($150k), Servant Center ($73,000), Tiny Houses ($55,000), Salvation Army ($52,000), Family Support Services ($50,000), and West End Ministries ($50,000).
- $500,000 is being used for a countywide strategic planning initiative to support work to end the experience of homelessness for people in Guilford County.
In addition to initiatives to end homelessness, ARPA funds are also being used to address food insecurity across the county.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners have approved funding to help establish a food security program team within the NC Cooperative Extension – Guilford County Center.
That program aims to “strengthen the local food system, improve data collection and sharing, and create a county-wide food security plan.”
The program team has built connections in the local community, and conducted a listening tour – hearing what community members see, feel, and think about food insecurity and food systems across Guilford County.
The Food Security Team supported the community-led development of the Triad’s first Black Farmer’s Market, aided community development work in the local food system, provided grant writing training for community leaders, offered technical support to food pantries – and supported farm tours in order to highlight the importance of a strong local food system.
The Cooperative Extension is also working with local non-profits and area hospitals as well as with Fuse – a national non-profit focused on improving equity and innovation in local governments – in an attempt to bring an Executive Fuse Fellow to Guilford County.
Collectively, county officials state, these actions form the groundwork for a stronger food system for Guilford County.