Twice the Greensboro City Council has heard the same report on leaving the Guilford County Continuum of Care (CoC) and forming a Greensboro CoC.
Neither time has there been a discussion of the Guilford County CoC’s response to the plan for Greensboro to start its own CoC, which clearly has the support of the majority of City Council. The implication was that the Guilford County COC was fine with the idea.
But that is not the case. The Guilford County CoC sent an 11-page response to the Greensboro City Council explaining what the CoC does and why splitting into two bodies would be would not be beneficial to the organizations in Guilford County that provide services for the homeless population or for the homeless population itself. That report from the Guilford County CoC was not mentioned at either of the two City Council work sessions on the proposed new Greensboro CoC, nor was the fact that the chair of the Guilford County CoC board, Pamela Palmer, sent a letter to the City Council requesting a meeting to “respond to questions or concerns” and provide more information.
A CoC is run by a board and is not a part of city or county government but applies for and distributes funds from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to agencies that deal with the homeless population.
At the City Council work session on Sept. 1, Greensboro City Councilmember Justin Outling was interrupted and blasted by Mayor Nancy Vaughan for suggesting that Greensboro contact Guilford County before making a final decision. Vaughan said that Guilford County had nothing to do with housing and there was no reason to contact them.
The city councilmembers had been provided a list of “CoC Agencies,” which had 13 agencies. The Guilford County CoC actually has over 45 members. And a look at all the members indicates that at the very least a discussion with Guilford County would be appropriate because the membership includes the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, the Guilford County Department of Social Services, the Guilford County Family Justice Center, Guilford County Schools, Guilford County Veterans Services and the Sandhills Center that provides mental health services for Guilford County.
Some of the points made in the Guilford County CoC response include:
“Greensboro agencies will be forced to join the Greensboro CoC if they want funding, whether they want to or not – this is not collaborative and is contrary to the purpose of a CoC – would the Greensboro CoC really be a collaborative and effective body if people are forced to participate just to get funding?
“Funding will become fragmented and will be complex for agencies who serve clients in both cities;
“Most of the Greensboro CoC agencies would want to stay a part of the Guilford County CoC and would not want to separate as demonstrated in the CoC’s Membership and Board vote to establish the Stronger Together Task Force.”
Vaughan and Councilmember Michelle Kennedy, who is the executive director of the Interactive Resource Center (IRC) – a daytime shelter for the homeless in Greensboro – both said that the Guilford County COC did not concentrate enough on housing.
However, according to the Guilford County COC’s report, 87 percent of its funding in 2019 was spent on permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing.
There are currently 12 CoCs in North Carolina.