Featured photo: Greensboro city council members approved a contract with Step Up to convert the old Regency Inn motel into permanent supportive housing for unhoused people in Greensboro. (photo by Gale Melcher)

Following unanimous city council approval during Tuesday night’s meeting, the city of Greensboro and the national organization Step Up will work together to fund and develop permanent supportive housing services for houseless individuals at the former Regency Inn.

As has been reported by news outlets in the past, the Regency Inn, which is located at 2701 N. O. Henry Blvd., has been used during the winter months for the past few years to shelter unhoused people.

At the last city council meeting, councilmembers approved a resolution pledging the city’s intent to focus on the development of permanent supportive housing and encourage “cooperation” from governmental agencies, housing and care providers. The resolution calls on providers such as Cone Health, the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Guilford County, PACE of the Triad, Triad Adult and Pediatric Medicine, non-profit agencies, housing providers and the Greensboro Housing Authority to “work together in the development of permanent supportive housing.”

The project at the Regency Inn had previously been on the May 16 meeting agenda but was tabled until Tuesday in order to facilitate further discussion. Councilmembers came to a consensus during a work session held on Tuesday afternoon, approving the resolution later that night.

What’s the plan?

According to the resolution, Step Up has committed to the development of 150 units of permanent supportive housing in Greensboro within three years, and anticipates developing 57 units at the Regency. The city has committed to funding case management services at $500 per client for a three year period.

Housing and Neighborhood Development Director Michelle Kennedy noted during the work session that there have been recent talks with Guilford County leadership about an “initial $1 million commitment” from the county for this project.

Regarding these partnerships, Mayor Nancy Vaughan told TCB that she’s happy that the county will be involved.

“We are really pleased that the county is at the table talking about this housing and homelessness issue,” Vaughan said. “So this brings us a step closer, and I’m excited about it.”

Step Up has been working since 1984 to provide mental health services and housing development and serves 5,000 houseless individuals across the country according to CEO Tod Lipka. 

“We know that housing is a lifesaving component to address a person’s homelessness,” Lipka told the council on Tuesday virtually via Zoom, adding that the company has been pursuing motel conversion projects because they know they can do it quickly and cost-effectively. 

In terms of who will be placed in the units, Lipka said that the city and the organization will work together to identify residents.

“Is it the people that police are interacting with on a regular basis? Individuals who are the source of the most 911 calls?” Lipka asked. “So we really will leave it to the city to give us direction about who they want to be housed in these units.”

Council District 3 representative and President of Downtown Greensboro Inc. Zack Matheny said that the city needed a “change-up.” 

“We need another group to come in and aid us in the most proper manner possible,” he said. “I think it’s important that we really challenge ourselves on this because we talk about it every meeting. We see some of the same folks on the street. I can go down the street and I see folks laying in buildings.”

Some councilmembers such as District 5’s representative Tammi Thurm have been pushing to redevelop the Regency Inn into permanent supportive housing for several years. 

“We’ve been working on this for a long time,” Thurm told TCB. “I’m just excited to see it coming to fruition.

“This is an all-city problem — it’s all across the country, it’s not just Greensboro,” Thurm continued. “And there’s no one solution. We have to attack the problem from lots of different directions. We have to work together between agencies and move it forward.”

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