Urban Ministry responds to concerns about emergency shelter

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Responding to concern among Greensboro congregations about allegations outlined in a News & Record column by Susan Ladd that Urban Ministry is turning away people from cold-weather emergency shelter, the agency indicates a change of course in a Feb. 5 letter received by at least one church.

“We have just entered into a partnership with the Interactive Resource Center to help them operate their crisis shelter for this winter,” Executive Director Mike Aiken wrote. The Interactive Resource Center, a homeless day center, began providing overnight emergency shelter when Urban Ministry began restricting access to a network of auxiliary emergency shelters.

In the letter, Aiken denies that anyone was ever denied shelter, while focusing on long-term initiatives and other forms of assistance that are not directly related to emergency shelter.

“Let me set the record straight, Greensboro Urban Ministry does not leave the needy out in the cold!” he writes. “In fact, each and every winter GUM spends thousands of dollars helping pay for people’s heating costs, nearly doubling the number of shelter beds available, and providing supportive services to help people help themselves in their struggle to break the cycles of hunger, poverty and homelessness. For many years, Urban Ministry has been committed to its policy that during life threatening weather no one will be turned away or asked to leave without finding a safe place to stay alternative. We have followed and are following that policy this winter.”