Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said this week that the county is moving forward with plans to create two new facilities meant to help troubled people – a new 70- to 100-bed substance abuse center providing long- term care and a new 70- to 100-bed mental health facility that will also offer long-term care.

On Wednesday, Nov. 30, Alston and three other county commissioners are meeting with some mayors and other elected leaders, county staff, representatives of community groups and other stakeholders. The planned treatment centers will be discussed along with other strategies meant to address the problem of homelessness in Guilford County.

Alston said it’s impossible to tackle the problem of homelessness without dealing with drug issues and the mental health challenges that often lead to homelessness.

He said that’s why the two new facilities are so important.

“It’s urgent,” Alston said emphatically of the need to build the two facilities. “I want to see the ribbon-cutting by this time next year.”

He said the goal is to get as many homeless people as possible off the streets using the two new centers before the weather turns cold in late 2023.

Currently, county staff is exploring options including everything from constructing new buildings to renovating existing ones. County officials are also exploring the possibility of having one large facility with two wings – one offering long-term care to substance abusers and one offering the same to those with mental health issues.

Alston added that it’s not yet known how much it will cost to establish the centers and operate them each year; however, he said, very preliminary data suggests the centers will cost $5 million to $6 million each to build – with each costing perhaps $1 million to $1.5 million a year to operate.