Working to End Homelessness: The IRC and GUM

Local Groups Work to End Homelessness in Greensboro

"Guilford County is home to one of the two largest pockets of concentrated poverty in North Carolina. Greensboro Urban Ministry (GUM) and the Interactive Resource Center (IRC) are critical allies stabilizing those in crisis, providing different and essential services.
On any given night, there are approximately 900 people experiencing homelessness in Greensboro. This means that every single night there are more people experiencing homelessness than there are available shelter beds.  While always a concern, this situation becomes critical when the temperatures drop to life-threatening levels.

This winter, the IRC—a day resource center—has created additional shelter space on these dangerously cold nights.  The IRC does not have the funding to cover this additional service to the community. To help the IRC deliver this service, GUM is contributing $620 to the IRC for each night of overnight shelter provided, or roughly half the cost of the operation. “Both of our agencies are committed to protecting our most vulnerable neighbors,” says the Rev. Mike Aiken, Executive Director of GUM.

For more than 50 years, GUM has provided supportive services to help people help themselves in their struggle to break the cycle of hunger, poverty and homelessness.  In 2014, GUM provided overnight shelter to more than 1,500 clients in the Weaver House and in the GUM-operated Winter Emergency shelters. The agency served more than 200,000 meals, collected and distributed more than one million pounds of food, and provided emergency financial assistance to more than 2,200 households. More than 88 households and 117 individuals were re-housed and supported with case management through GUM programs.

The IRC serves over 200 people a day through their regular day operations. The IRC provides critical services including access to medical care, showers, laundry, mail services, a computer lab, jobs programming, educational classes, as well as serves as an incubator for community led programs to address poverty.  When the night shelter opens, the small IRC staff is flexed to operate a 24-hour facility. “It is a matter of heart and conscience that has caused us to go beyond our primary mission of providing essential day services and open as an emergency night shelter.  There is a population in Greensboro that has no place to go at night and while that is always difficult, this weather makes sleeping unsheltered life-threatening,” says IRC Executive Director Michelle Kennedy. “We have to open.”  The IRC adopted a “white flag” approach this winter, making overnight shelter available to anyone who needs it when the temperature drops below 25 degrees. 

We ask that the community take time to better understand the issues contributing to the rise in poverty in Guilford County and to support the efforts of GUM, the IRC, and other similar organizations to build a stronger community."

- A Press Release

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