Justin Harmon: Greensboro Significantly Has To Deal With Homelessness | Columnists

Pastor Sadie Lansdale, pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greensboro, called on Greensboro City Council in April 2018 to repeal a city ordinance that she believed criminalized homelessness and scaremongering. The council did it in August of that year.

H. Scott Hoffmann News and Records

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that in a single night in America in January of that year, nearly 550,000 people were documented as homeless, 32% of whom were homeless. Although these national statistics are eye-opening, this problem is a very local one.

Partners Ending Homelessness, a Guilford County nonprofit, found an overall decline in the number of people looking for shelter and homeless in their intermittent surveys from 2007 to 2016. However, these data do not provide a complete picture of the reasons for this, nor are they a representative snapshot of the chronically homeless.

Recently with Drs. Sonalini Sapra and Krista Craven from Guilford College, their students and the Homeless Union of Greensboro, we conducted an in-depth study of the problems facing the homeless population in Greensboro, specifically addressing issues related to the criminalization of poverty and Resource Scarcity Addresses. For a city that seems to be overcrowded with development projects, one would hope the economic planning process takes into account how to provide opportunities for all residents, but that is apparently wishful thinking.

Around 200 surveys of homeless people were conducted in the second half of 2018, with 84% of respondents saying they had tried multiple times to gain access to housing in Greensboro – 68% of them were either rarely or never able to do so to do. For most (70%) this was due to overcrowding – there just weren’t enough beds. But there were other, worrying reasons for this, including safety concerns (38%) and a general lack of facility cleanliness (43%). For some (45%), however, the rules of the facilities mattered: Many accommodations have a curfew, so that cemetery staff are automatically denied a safe place to sleep.

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