Greensboro homeless violence: Two people assaulted in separate incidents outside shelter

homelessviolenceFrom a friend to me, on Facebook:

“I have 2 stories for you tonight. one. A man got beat up last night at Urban Ministries by three kids who live down in Saint James.(he didnt know what hit him or who did it cause he was intoxicated.) The second thing that happened happened three and a half hours later. A guy got stabbed over an altercation at about 11:15pm last night-At Urban Ministries. More details in my status. i was there when both things happened. i know all parties involved in both altercations.”

On her wall, she wrote:

“I was there catching the bus-there was also another person involved a mexican man who resides at urban ministries-There was another person involved, whose identidy shall remain undisclosed-

Lately i have been in the most oddest places, at the most dumbest times-i hate to see ppl fight over territory, and i hate to see blood,or ppl fighting…”

Re: “A man got beat up…”

The incident report lists the victim of the first assault as a homeless, white male, aged 50:  “Assault, Simple Physical,” “Minor Injuries – Apparent.”  Drug/alcohol use for the victim is checked “yes.”  The location is the parking lot area of 305 W. Lee Street, the location of the Greensboro Urban Ministry homeless shelter.  The incident was reported at 9:00 p.m. on Monday night.  The status is “Active/open.”   According to GPD Watch Operations, EMS responded, but the report doesn’t indicate that the victim was transported to the hospital.

Re: “A guy got stabbed…”

No report on P2C yet.  From GPD, Watch Operations: Victim had superficial injury and refused treatment. Victim was uncooperative with officers and provided no information.  No arrest made at the time of police response.  The location was 305 W. Lee Street.  It’s unclear from the police report whether the incident occurred inside the shelter or in the parking lot.  From my friend’s report, sounds like this was actually out on the sidewalk.

It’s not unusual for homeless people to medical refuse treatment or to not want to talk to police. It’s a different world. But most of the time, when someone gets hurt, it doesn’t take long for everybody to find out what happened, although the story may mutate a bit depending upon how far it gets from the source. Word travels fast on the street. Actually, we count on that when we’re doing an impromptu meal or other event. Tell a couple of people on the block and a couple of people at the library and you get a crowd pretty quickly.

Homeless man struck and killed by car on his way to shelter

A homeless man, Ronald Wrenn, was hit by a car on Friday night while crossing South Eugene Street on his way to the Salvation Army Center of Hope’s emergency overflow night shelter.  He died shortly afterward** at Moses Cone Hospital.  I found out just after it happened from our church’s outreach director, Marshall, who’d talked to the downtown cops that we do street outreach with.  They’d just been at the scene of the accident.  I went by the hospital later to check on him and found out that he’d died.  Family members had already been notified.  I had posted a message to Facebook earlier, asking all our friends to pray for him, but I waited to blog about it because the information had not yet been released to the public.  It was posted on the web site of the News & Record a little while ago, so I’m posting it now, too.

I didn’t know Ronald well; Marshall knew him better.  Ronald ate at the weekly community dinners at our church, Grace Community, at the Food Not Bombs dinners at the library on Monday nights, and we’d seen him on NightWatch.  I remember him as being very polite and quiet, not much of a talker, but always smiling and thankful for the meals we served.

I talked to my friend and ministry partner Audrie last night, when I found out about the accident, and again after I found out that he died.  We are both shocked and sad.  I’m praying for the young lady who hit him.  I can’t imagine how traumatizing that must be for her.  That’s a very dangerous stretch of road for pedestrians to cross.  We tell our NightWatch volunteers to be very careful when they leave the parking lot at night, because there are a lot of people walking and crossing the road in that area, and it’s dark and hard to see them.  This is just so, so sad.

LORD, be with the family, and with our friends who knew Ronald, and give them comfort and peace…

**UPDATE: Just got a phone call. Although news reports say Ronald died at the hospital, witnesses tell me that Ronald died at the scene. Based on what they saw, they believe that he was killed instantly or died within minutes. I hope that this is true, because it means that he probably didn’t suffer. One of his friends tells me, “He had a lot of friends… He was well-liked on the street.” Also, he used to fly a sign right off of Westover Terrace, by the elementary school, so you may have seen him. I’ll try to get a picture of him.

City’s closing of Coliseum Inn increases homelessness in Greensboro

Earlier today, I posted information received from an HCD staff member with the City of Greensboro, detailing the relocation of 26 former residents of the Coliseum Inn, which was purchased by the City in November, and has since been closed. I questioned the low number of residents relocated, knowing that the hotel’s occupancy rate was far greater than 26 people. There were hundreds of people living at the hotel. I haven’t received any further information from the City, but tonight, I spoke to a homeless friend who gave me the names and locations of half a dozen of his friends who lost their housing when the Coliseum Inn closed, and are now back on the street, living outside — homeless. He told me that he could make me a longer list with the names of everyone he knows who got kicked out and is back on the street, and I plan to sit down with him and get that list.

I asked my friend if he knew of families with children who were staying at the Coliseum Inn when the City closed the hotel, and he said, “yes.” I asked if he knew where they went, and he said at least two of the families are now living in their cars — with their children. I am going to follow up with my friend to try to find out more names and locations of people who have become homeless due to the City’s closing of the Coliseum Inn, and try to locate some of the people and offer them what we have in our street outreach supplies — blankets, food, toiletries, etc., and to let them know about the resources that I’m aware of, including the winter emergency shelters and the day center.

The City bought and closed the Coliseum Inn. And now I hear that as a result of the closing, there are more homeless people on the street, including families with children living in their cars. This is exactly what I feared would happen when I first emailed City Council and City staff about the potential closing, back in August. The hotel closed very quietly, with little notice. But the City’s contribution to increasing homelessness has not gone unnoticed. Stay tuned.