The support and input from our amazing partners in the health and human services field is instrumental to the success of NCCARE360 in North Carolina. Today, we are sitting down with Robbielene Lawhorn, at Greensboro Housing Coalition to discuss the organization’s achievements, experience with the network, and vision for the future.
How would you summarize Greensboro Housing Coalition’s work and your role in particular? What populations does Greensboro Housing Coalition serve?
The Greensboro Housing Coalition is an agency that is concerned with safe and affordable housing. We believe that everyone has the right to stay in a decent place that they can afford. Most days, we find ourselves acting as a triage point for people about a wide variety of housing situations. We listen to the concerns of the community and we work to provide counseling and solutions. In some instances, we address their concerns through programs that we offer and also often have to refer them out when there are circumstances that GHC may not be able to address. My role as the Homeless Prevention Team Manager is directing my team as we field phone calls and see clients face to face regarding their housing issues. Our agency serves anyone. We get calls from all over the U.S. regarding housing concerns. Most of our clients have low income and are in crisis when they walk through our doors or call us.
Currently, what’re your biggest challenges at Greensboro Housing Coalition? How do you deal with them?
The biggest challenges that we have at GHC are the scant funding resources that we can tap into for our clients for things such as emergency assistance or eviction prevention. The other huge issue is the lack of enough safe and affordable housing properties that we can direct people to. We help clients think out of the box to find monetary resources and negotiate what they might owe and/or need. Like most communities, Greensboro is under-resourced to deal with the types of crisis that vulnerable people find themselves in on a daily basis. According to recent data, Greensboro ranks #7 nationally for numbers of evictions.
What accomplishments are your team most proud of?
The thing that I am most proud of for my team and GHC as a whole is that we rise to the occasion in times of need. When there is a disaster, such as the tornado that hit Greensboro in April of 2018, when a multi-unit apartment complex was condemned, and when properties have been flooded or there has been a fire leading to condemnations through no fault of the resident, we help to re-house people. During times of large and small scale housing emergencies, GHC is one of the first agencies, and in some cases the only agency, that is called upon to analyze what is happening, develop a plan of action to help the person/people affected and to implement that plan. We work closely with other community partners to help our clients, if and when necessary. Our GHC staff stays ready and willing to help out in any way that we can.
How has NCCARE360 impacted the way you deliver care? What has surprised you?
The use of NCCARE360 has allowed us the ability to be able to reach people who might not have ordinarily contacted us because they were unaware of our agency, through referrals from other member agencies. We have received many more referrals from healthcare partners than before.
What was it like for your organization before working with NCCARE360? And afterward?
We have always been an agency that people referred their clients, friends, and family to for possible help. Now, we are reaching more people. We strongly appreciate the feedback loop that is built into NCCARE360 between agencies making and receiving referrals. In the past, referrals have come our way for things that we can’t or don’t do, and the clients have had to come to us to find this out. NCCARE360 has streamlined things for the consumer, saving them time so they don’t need to use resources to travel to an agency that might not be able to help them.
What advice would you give to an organization interested in joining NCCARE360?
I would suggest that any organization join because it will give them access to potential clients who might not have ever known about them. It also provides possible resources that they could refer their own clients to. With more resources, people’s situations may be resolved quicker.
What’s next for Greensboro Housing Coalition?
GHC is working to build relationships with NC’s Prepaid Health Plans and is working to be part of Medicaid Pilots if our region is selected. We believe that there has already been a demonstrated health benefit of going upstream to address social drivers of health and we want to continue to help push conversations about the most effective ways to deliver care and serve vulnerable people.