Leaders in Greensboro, High Point and Guilford County have all been putting a major focus on the issue of homelessness this year.
And the three local governments – along with many community-based organizations – are working together toward the noble but perhaps unachievable goal of wiping out homelessness in the county.
Though it can be a problem in all parts of the county, the homeless tend to gravitate toward the county’s two largest cities.
The Greensboro City councilmembers and the Guilford County commissioners have had some different ideas on how to address homelessness in recent years, which has led to public disagreements at times. However, now, in 2023, everyone seems to be on the same page and laser focused on the matter at hand.
Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said that he had been very pleased with the way the two cities and Guilford County have been working together and taking real action to address the problem. For instance, the county recently purchased the tornado-damaged Erwin Elementary School building in Greensboro to be used in some capacity in the fight against homelessness.
Alston said his goal is to have every homeless person in the county off the streets before the weather turns cold later this year.
Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan also said this week that she’s very pleased with the progress that’s being made, the efforts of the three local governments and non-profits, and the pace at which things are moving.
The mayor recently spoke with the Rhino Times about all of the new economic investment coming to Guilford County, and she said one reason is that the local governments came together years ago in a joint effort to make that happen. The mayor said she has that same feeling currently about what’s going on with the inclusive joint task force that’s been established to wipe out homelessness.
“We are really planning on that task force as being almost like the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance,” she said of the board formed eight years ago to put the three local governments onto the same page for economic development.
As with the Economic Development Alliance, private organizations also play a role in the fight against homelessness.
Vaughan cited an effort by Open Door Ministries in High Point to raise money for a 50,000-square-foot day center that is meant to go a long way toward addressing homelessness in that city.
Both Vaughan and Alston said the task force and city and elected officials are exploring the best way to use the former Erwin Elementary School to address the problem.
Alston also said that the formation of the large task force has been a real gamechanger. He said that, in the past, many well-meaning groups had been battling homelessness in a myriad of different ways – rather than in a coherent and coordinated manner as they are doing now.