Guilford County staff and commissioners have a lot of responsibility as it is, but that isn’t preventing them from taking on a new one.
The county is working to become the administrative body for the Guilford County Continuum of Care (CoC) – a collective of 50 non-profits that provide services to homeless people in the county.
At a recent Board of Commissioners work session, the board voted unanimously to have staff draw up a Memorandum of Understanding to enter into with the local CoC, and the board also instructed staff to begin all of the steps necessary for the county to take over the management responsibilities of the CoC. The move came after representatives of the CoC requested the county take on those duties.
This summer the Greensboro City Council began discussing the possibility of forming a separate Greensboro CoC – a move that CoC representatives said would be inefficient, disruptive and detrimental to the administration of care to the homeless.
Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips and other commissioners have been working in recent months to have the county take on the job. Phillips, who does volunteer work with the homeless and made homelessness one of his key concerns after joining the Board of Commissioners in 2012, has a particular interest in the current situation.
After the City of Greensboro’s step toward forming a separate CoC, Phillips wrote a letter to US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Dr. Ben Carson requesting that the county take over the administration of the Guilford County CoC. HUD approval is required because HUD decides how the funds supporting the homeless are distributed in communities across America.
At the Thursday, Nov. 5 work session of the Board of Commissioners, Phillips told his fellow commissioners that it was “not recommended” for a community to have overlapping or competing CoCs. He said it was his understanding that that had occurred in “two or three” places in the country, however, federal officials did not consider it to be in the best interest of the people served by CoCs.
Commissioner Skip Alston suggested that more communication with the Greensboro City Council might be beneficial to resolving the situation.
At the November 5 work session, Pamela Palmer, the chair of the Guilford County CoC board, told the commissioners why the group was against having separate CoCs in the county.
“When the City of Greensboro expressed interest in separation, we began to think about and discuss the impact,” she told the commissioners.
She said it would make it challenging for some homeless people to access services because they may be in Greensboro but need services not offered by a Greensboro CoC.