Featured photo: Pallet homes went up for the 2023 fall/winter season recently (photo by Gale Melcher)
The city of Greensboro has laid the groundwork for the second round of the Doorway Project, a temporary housing facility located at Pomona Park.
On Oct. 30, city staff started constructing temporary Pallet shelters, 64-square-foot aluminum buildings equipped with temperature control, bedding and storage space as a way to provide shelter to unhoused individuals through the coldest months of the year
According to the city, residents will start moving in on Nov. 6.
Onsite services such as case management will be administered by the project’s partner, the Interactive Resource Center. The IRC managed the city’s first attempt at the housing program last year, which ran from December until March.
This year’s request for proposals opened on Sept. 15, and proposals were due by Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. The IRC was the only applicant this year and last year according to Housing and Neighborhood Development Director Michelle Kennedy and Assistant Director Cynthia Blue.
The shelters are capable of housing two people each, and this year 30 will stand at Pomona Park’s ballfield until March 1, according to an August email to Triad City Beat from Kennedy. Two of the shelters are handicap-accessible. Restroom and shower facilities will be provided to the community.
How did it go last year?
According to HND’s annual report, the community maintained an occupancy rate of 92 percent “for the majority of the winter” with 75 residents in total during its first iteration.
“Eighty percent of the guests that we served were able to move into some other type of shelter or housing by the end of the program,” Singleton wrote in a September email to Triad City Beat.
Last year’s program got off to a rocky start, with restroom and shower facilities often down according to residents and staff. The ballpark is also four miles away from downtown, where many resources for unhoused people are located. Residents received four bus passes per day, according to multiple residents.
The project has drawn criticism from members of city council as well. Councilmember Zack Matheny was wary about the project during a council meeting last month, where he advocated for more permanent housing instead of “putting a Band-Aid on what we’re experiencing in our community right now.”
“This is a lost opportunity,” Mayor Nancy Vaughan agreed.
“We are spending this money on a one-time thing for the Pallet shelters when we should be investing it in something else, but we are in a position where these are life and death decisions,” Vaughan continued.
“It’s not a good alternative, but it’s the only alternative,” she said.
More permanent housing is on the way. The city entered into an agreement in May with Step Up on Second, a California-based nonprofit. The city and Step Up will work together to fund and develop permanent supportive housing services for unhoused individuals at the former Regency Inn located at 2701 N. O. Henry Blvd. Step Up has committed to developing 150 housing units for unhoused people in Greensboro within three years and anticipates developing 57 units at the Regency Inn. The city has committed to funding case management services at $500 per client for a three year period.
Another city-funded program offers a safe place for people to sleep in their cars overnight: The Safe Parking program is also run by the IRC at its 407 E. Washington St. headquarters. Last year it was stationed at Pomona Park. Twenty spaces are available, along with portable toilet facilities and handwashing stations.
The program operates seven days a week from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
As the seasons change, a new start for the Doorway Project is just around the corner.
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