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Preventing the Death of the Next Lanceford Ross Williams

Source: Editorial Staff

What does it mean to be housed? Safety. Security. Warmth. Protection from the outside world. 

On March 1, Lanceford Ross Williams was shot and killed on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Greensboro. In many news headlines about his death, he is portrayed as a “murdered homeless man.” Yet, those who knew him personally remember his big smile and larger-than-life personality that lit up the streets of downtown Greensboro. 

Lanceford will also be remembered by his sister and brother from Florida. Sadly enough, they have been searching for him for the last 20 years and just learned about where he was after he died. They both are demanding justice for his death. 

Greensboro Police are working on finding out who is responsible for killing Lanceford and have yet to release a motive for the shooting. 

Anthony Morgan, who was a close friend of Lanceford, organized a Gofundme page to make sure his family can travel to Greensboro to give him a proper burial. 

Morgan told WFMY News 2  “For us to set a [goal] of $7,500 and within five days be able to accomplish that it speaks to a bigger issue. It speaks to the fact that we had the resources the whole time to establish a foundation for Lance and the resources he needed to go to the next level to survive and not be killed by gun violence.”

Ironically, before Lanceford was murdered, he was so close to securing housing.

So why is Lanceford’s story important? To many who did not know him, he was just another homeless person, who needed housing. To some, he was a walking nuisance that was taking up public space in Downtown Greensboro. To others, Lanceford’s story is closely linked to their personal story.

Regardless of your opinion of who Lanceford was, at the very least he was a person who deserved permanent housing. There are many others like him who need housing across our state and some who are very close to being homeless.

In a Triad City Beat article from last year, Rent.com reported that Greensboro was the top city in the country with the biggest increase in rent for a one-bedroom apartment. Raleigh was also on that list.

In Rent.com’s most recent report, Raleigh/Cary is now at the top of the list with a 23 percent increase in monthly rent and Charlotte/Concord/Gastonia is not too far behind at 14 percent.

Homelessness is not a topic we like to talk about but it can be a real phenomenon for any of us. All it takes is losing a job or having our rent increased to the point where we can no longer afford where we live. Not all of us have safety nets to fall back on. 

At the most recent Greensboro city council meeting that took place on March 7, city council members voted to approve a $6.6 million plan to combat homelessness and a lack of affordable housing in Greensboro. Here is the 19-page report with the breakdown of services. However, the funding guidelines are quite specific. Some of these guidelines are to assist those who are fleeing domestic violence situations, or those who are at greater risk of homelessness like veterans.

What about those who are not in those populations? 

You know, if our circumstances change, we can potentially experience homelessness.

How do we change the system so this is something we do not have to worry about in our future? What can we do to help those who are currently in need of housing or are desperately searching for affordable housing? 

If you would like to give back to organizations that are working directly with homeless populations, consider donating or volunteering with the Working Class & Houseless Organizing Alliance (WHOA)  or the Interactive Resource Center in Greensboro. Both of these organizations go above and beyond providing meals and dire resources to those who no longer have access to permanent housing. They also advocate with these community members to find long-lasting solutions for those who are seeking housing. 

Let’s do better with taking care of our homeless populations and find long-term solutions.

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