IRC provides housing in hotels during COVID-19 pandemic, continues push for long term options

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Leaders at The Interactive Resource Center say hotel housing is making a difference amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since outbreaks began in the Triad, the center has funded hotel stays for about 150 people who would have otherwise been without shelter, or turned to congregate living facilities.

“When working with the homeless population, almost everyone is in that high-risk category,” explained IRC peer support specialist Cameron McClellan.

So far, the stays have cost the center $37,000 weekly. Michelle Kennedy, a councilwoman and IRC executive director said the cost is worth it.

“What’s the cost of a human life? What’s the cost of 150 human lives? What’s the cost of the health of the community?” she said Friday.

Kennedy said only four people have tested positive for coronavirus, but she believes a more permanent option would suit those experiencing homelessness better.

She explained that the City of Greensboro, Cone Health and nonprofits like the Salvation Army have been working to create permanent supportive housing.

The housing would provide tenants access to some of the services they need, like the health department and other community resources.

“If we had had more units that people could have moved into, we would have had far less people on the streets or unsheltered during this time so that would have been a tremendous benefit,” Kennedy said.

She said the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for options in Greensboro.

“It’s not just about the people who are unsheltered. We’re only as healthy as our sickest individuals, right? Or those among us who are least healthy,” she said.

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