GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Whether it’s hot, cold or rainy, the homeless population is sleeping outside. One solution the city of Greensboro has come up with is setting up pallet homes to house the homeless in the winter months. They are now preparing to bring them back for another season.
There is no exact date when they will be put back up at Pomona Park, but city leaders say the goal is soon, so they can be prepared for some cold October nights. Last year was a big learning curve for the city. This year, they feel more prepared and say the pallet homes will go up quickly.
“The goal here is we want to get all of these individuals access to permanent housing. That is how you end homelessness,” said Liz Alverson, the City of Greensboro’s supportive housing analyst.
The pallet homes are meant to be a stepping stone.
“We did have residents that stayed the entirety of the program. Some from day one until the last day we had them up … We had some folks who came and went,” Alverson said.
The pallet homes were taken down in the spring, and people staying there transitioned to permanent housing. Some went to live with friends and others went into emergency shelters.
“To search for permanent housing right now is quite a struggle … Locally and nationally, we are seeing that it is more and more difficult to get people into affordable housing … In addition to that, it is taking a really long time to have those units to become available,” Alverson said.
Right now, there are 30 pallet homes, which will give around 60 homeless individuals a roof over their heads. During Wednesday night’s city council meeting, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan asked for 10 more units, but there is no plan on how those would be funded.
The temporary homes are only offered during the winter.
There is an option available all year long for people to safely park at night in the Interactive Resource Center parking lot at 407 E. Washington St. That is open every day from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Each week, they average about 75 people, including 15 children. Organizers at the IRC say those numbers continue to go up.
“We are seeing a lot of families living in their cars that don’t know where to go or feel threatened when they go to certain areas of the city,” Alverson said.
People who stay at the IRC parking lot have access to bathrooms, showers, case management and overnight security.
The problem is that there is no safe place for people to go overnight if they don’t have a car to stay in. It’s a reminder to the city of Greensboro that there is still work to do.
“It needs to be a topic that stays with everyone and at the top of the list. It doesn’t need to ebb and flow like it typically does,” Alverson said.
She says the city hopes to have a plan in the next four to six weeks for the pallet homes. They will be taking referrals from community organizations to select who gets to stay there in the winter.