Tax Dollars Not Being Used To Help Heritage House Tenants

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Heritage House residents packed up their boxes and moved out Friday afternoon, but not everyone had a place to stay. Some families are staying at hotels for up to two weeks, but taxpayers won't be footing that bill.

City spokesperson Donnie Turlington said he misspoke Wednesday when he told WFMY News 2 money from the city's general fund would be used to help pay for temporary housing for Heritage House residents. He said he apologizes for the mistake.

Instead, Turlington said the Greensboro Housing Coalition will be funding the hotel stays.

This is what he told WFMY News 2 on Wednesday: "We knew when we went into transitioning this building that there was going to be some costs involved, but we've got some money as part of our budget that we deal with certain situations like this every year," city spokesperson Donnie Turlington said.

Turlington said he doesn't expect the families will stay longer than two weeks because the city is still working with them to find permanent housing. He said when they relocate families, the new housing has to pass an inspection, which takes time. Turlington said the city didn't have much of a choice but to help the Heritage House tenants.

"We from a humanitarian stand-point, we can't just put people out on the street. We've got to take care of them," he said. "Again, the important thing is everybody's going to have a place to stay tonight."

The Greensboro Police Department stepped up its patrols at the Heritage House too, but that comes at no cost to taxpayers. GPD said it's only allocated on-duty resources to the area, which means the department is not spending any extra money.

"For the next seven days, give or take, we will be manning this location with a number of different resources to ensure that number one, nobody breaks into the building and no further damage or graffiti or any other type of issue may occur," Lt. Sean Gladieux said.

The city also used Higher Education Area Transit or HEAT buses to shuttle people from Heritage House to a shelter downtown. Turlington said the city used bus operators who were already available, so the main expense to taxpayers would be paying for the gas, which he said wasn't much.

There are also around 23 people from Heritage House staying at an emergency shelter set up at the International Resource Center. The center will run the shelter for the next two weeks.

"We've consistently viewed this as a humanitarian crisis and we were happy to step up and take the plate," shelter director Michelle Kennedy said.

If you would like to help, the city of Greensboro is still taking volunteers. Call 336-373-2489 if you're interested in helping.


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