All the elected leaders in Guilford County want to see the county’s problem of homelessness addressed, however, in the past, Guilford County, the City of Greensboro, and the City of High Point have often been on very different pages when it came to solutions. 

On Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 31, the local leaders hope to change that: Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and High Point Mayor Jay Wagner – along with other elected leaders and top staff from the county and the two cities – are holding a meeting to see what can be done to fix the problem.

Alston said on Monday, Aug. 29, that the problem of homelessness has reached alarming levels in Guilford County – largely due to the economic fallout of the pandemic.  He added that all three players have dropped the ball at times.  He said there’s plenty of blame to go around – including some for Guilford County government – but, by getting everyone together with staff in this tightly focused summit-style meeting to discuss the issue and potential solutions, there will hopefully be a more effective and coordinated effort going forward.

“It’s all of our problem,” Alston said of homelessness.

Alston said the county needs to work closely with the cities because about 95 percent of homelessness in the county occurs in Greensboro and High Point.

Unlike some times in the past, there’s currently a lot of money that can be used to address the problem – the federal government has been generous with funding to local governments since the pandemic began.  But Alston said that a long-term solution is needed.

“The American Rescue Plan Act money only lasts two years,” the chairman said of one source of funds.

According to Alston, some of the first steps needed include creating more beds in local homeless shelters, having a better system of transitional housing, addressing mental health issues among the homeless and providing job training to help solve the problem in a long-term fashion.