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Thousands of Greensboro families pay over 30% of income on housing expenses. UNC Greensboro is trying to help.

Community Foundation

Like so many communities around the country and in North Carolina, affordable housing is hard to come by in Greensboro.

“In Greensboro alone, there are more than 37,000 families or households who are cost-burdened,” said Stephen Sills, director of UNC Greensboro’s Center for Housing and Community Studies. “They’re paying more than 30% of their income on housing and housing-related expenses and it puts them a paycheck away, a hospital bill away, a car payment away from being homeless.”

And that was only made worse by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“The spike in unemployment that went all the way to 14.8% at the peak last summer really created a domino effect unpaid bills, unmet expenses in housing, food and healthcare. And it’s going to be a while before we get out of this situation,” said Stephen Sills who heads up UNCG’s Center for Housing and Community Studies.

The goal of CHCS is to investigate and understand how where people live affects their overall health, wellbeing and life course.

As a Housing and Urban Policy Coordinator, Bruce Rich sees that firsthand every day. 

“I go to the communities and talk to people, find out what their experience is and how we can bridge the gap when services to the community are not enough to meet the needs,” Rich said.

While most that work is being done remotely for now, the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro has been the partner it needs as it adapts and continues to work with the community.

 “We’re very much engaged in addressing individual cases of eviction crisis and seeking solutions that help people avoid the drastic remedy of eviction,” said Rich. “And increasingly, we’re helping tenants navigate through the thicket of assistance programs that have become available in the time of COVID.”

CHCS has projects from Wilmington to Cherokee County in Western North Carolina and many communities in between. Its goal is to eliminate barriers in safe, affordable and healing housing and communities.

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