GREENSBORO, N.C. – Should homeless services move away from downtown Greensboro? It's a question that first started making its way around online. Now, it has gone all the way up to city council.
“Twenty years ago, when we located homeless services downtown, downtown was dead, there really wasn't much going on and now we have downtown revitalization,” said Amy Murphy, a local community leader who works with the homeless. “We have the opportunity to expand business and develop economically and that is the tax base that supports homeless services.”
Many people call Murphy, “the chicken lady.” She serves fried chicken to the homeless on Monday mornings.
“I am honored to be part of that community,” Murphy said.
Murphy thinks moving homeless services to one location outside the downtown area could benefit both homeless people and business owners.
“I support people who live outside, that's been my heart for years,” Murphy said. “I also support people that pay for it.”
One of the organizations that could be impacted is the Interactive Resource Center on Washington Street. It’s a day center where people can do laundry, make phone calls and go on the computer. It is also a place that offers classes and health services.
Michelle Kennedy is the executive director of the IRC.
“We were put here for a reason, because of the location, because of the place-based services, we are able to offer in the space,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy says they see no reason to move.
“The IRC is not for sale and neither are our ethics,” said Kennedy.
Phillip Marsh is a local artist and business owner.
Marsh has property across the street from the IRC. Although he recognizes that he could profit from the possible move, he says it’s not all about the money.
“There is always going to be an issue of homelessness, that is always going to be the case so you're going have to learn how to coexist with that,” Marsh said.
The best way to do that is what is up for debate.
“We are people,” said Joshua Jones Jr., who used to be homeless. “We are not trash, you can't just move us out there so nobody can see where we at.”
“It's not that were trying to hide people,” said Murphy. “I just think we have to come up with a solution that works for everybody.”
“We should be dealing with the root causes of homelessness – living wage, employment, access to safe decent affordable housing,” Kennedy said.
“Everybody should come together,” said Thomas Clodfelter, another person who used to be homeless.
“The men and women who are homeless should have the opportunity to meet with city council and let us help decide what's going to happen. It's about us.”
Amy Murphy brought her idea the Greensboro city council last week. Councilwoman Nancy Hoffmann told FOX8 her idea started a conversation about how to deal with homelessness in our area.
A $25 million housing bond passed last year is expected to give people more access to affordable housing.