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WUNC reports from Greensboro about Guilford County and surrounding area.

Greensboro Opens Homeless Shelter Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Kevin Fuller
Naomi Prioleau
Kevin Fuller, 42, sits on his cot in the Greensboro Sportsplex. Fuller has been homeless for the past five months and is now sleeping in the Sportsplex during the coronavirus pandemic.

Governor Roy Cooper's statewide stay-at-home order went into effect earlier this week. That presents a particular problem for the 9,000 North Carolinians who make up the state's homeless population.

It's a problem that the city of Greensboro is tackling by opening an additional homeless shelter in the Greensboro Sportsplex.

The SportsPlex is 10 times larger in square footage than the Interactive Resource Center, the facility that serves homeless people in normal circumstances.  

"We've been following guidance from National Healthcare for the Homeless, HUD and the CDC," said Michelle Kennedy, executive director of the Interactive Resource Center. "The reality is if you have a tent encampment, and it's a pretty stable encampment, you're better off there than you are going into a shelter. So this is a voluntary shelter."

The SportsPlex shelter is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will remain open for two months. Men sleep on one side of the building and women sleep on the other.

Each person at the SportsPlex gets a blanket, pillow, toiletries and a cot that's positioned at least six feet away from their neighbors. People can use the showers in shifts. Homeless people over the age of 60 will stay in hotels.

Moses Cone Health and the Greensboro Police Department are working in conjunction with the Interactive Resource Center to provide key services.

"I think difficulties for our guests have been public services that are normally available to them have closed down," Grants and Volunteer Coordinator at the Interactive Resource Center Kerry Nance said.

Kevin Fuller, 42, moved into the SportsPlex earlier this week. He said he has been homeless for the past five months.

"I don't need to get sick, but it's shutting down everything as far as work and stuff.  It's really hurting us because we can't work to get somewhere for us to stay," Fuller said. "So it just kind of came out of nowhere at the wrong time, but we've got to deal with it."

Naomi P. Brown joined WUNC in January 2017.
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