Greensboro bus tour to highlight homelessness, substandard housing

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Greensboro Housing Coalition and the Interactive Resource Center partnered up Tuesday for a bus tour of a different kind.

Rather than showing people the highlights of Greensboro, they wanted to show what they call the low points. More than 100 people crowded on to three buses to see what organizers deemed substandard housing and areas with high rates of homelessness. The goal was to bring awareness to the conditions in which some people in Greensboro live.

The bus tour was titled "Our Invisible Community."

"It is invisible," said GHC Executive Director Brett Byerly. "If you're going home, to work, you may never ride through some neighborhoods. You don't even know it exists. So this brings awareness."

On the tour, the participants, who included average citizens and elected officials, visited two apartment complexes deemed "substandard" by the tour.

GHC staff explained that the peeling paint and deterioration visible from the outside was just the beginning -- that when they have gone inside in the past, they have seen roaches, mold and rats. Organizers said the majority of the individuals who live in the worst conditions are immigrants and refugees, who do not feel comfortable speaking up.

Tour leaders said the system in Greensboro is overburdened, explaining that there are not nearly enough beds in homeless shelters to accommodate Greensboro's homeless population, and not nearly enough affordable housing units to satisfy the needs of the community. Organizers deem housing to be "affordable" if the rent is between $250-$400 per month.

This is the 12th year for the GHC to hold the bus tour, but the first year to partner with IRC.