Winston Should Borrow A Page From Greensboro’s Affordable Housing Playbook

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family. But with soaring rents and ridiculously high home prices causing housing precarity, life is not easy for working-class families this holiday season.

Like every other region of the country, the Triad has an affordable housing crisis. Winston has a deficit of at least 16,000 affordable housing units. The City of Winston-Salem has commissioned multiple housing studies. They have hired various experts. Mayor and Winston-Salem Alliance President Allen Joines even called for creating a Housing Czar position last year.

Despite vast amounts of data and numerous actionable ideas from the experts, the WSNC City Council has taken no bold action to deliver affordable housing on the scale needed.

Honestly, piecemeal action by the WSNC City Council won’t solve the problem. Only a massive recommitment to public housing by the federal government and rent control measures by states and localities will not put a dent in our nation’s affordable housing crisis.

But cities have to try. They have to use every tool at their disposal to promote affordable housing. Each home built and each home preserved helps folks in need.

Cities such as Winston and Greensboro, like cities throughout the country, have subsidized downtown development for years. In other words, they’ve subsidized largely unaffordable housing; the least they can do is fund working-class housing today.

Greensboro is leveraging foundation resources to address affordable housing. To that end, officials in Greensboro recently added:

“$5 million worth of the city’s housing bonds to the Greensboro Housing Fund. The fund is run through the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, which has a goal of $32 million to build and rehab affordable housing. Private donors already donated $22 million. The $5 million from the city still leaves the fund $5 million short of the $32 million goal.” –WFMY News 2

In his day job at the W-S Alliance, Allen Joines leveraged the Millennium Fund to redevelop his beloved downtown. Simultaneously he shepherded downtown development subsidies through the WSNC City Council.

Tens of millions of dollars are needed to build and preserve affordable housing throughout the city, particularly in East Winston. Joines is uniquely positioned to raise an affordable housing war chest. Joines came through for Downtown Winston. But he’s failed to address affordable housing in our community.

With the Cleveland Family Homes redevelopment set to take the bulk of the City’s affordable housing resources, Winston urgently needs a public/private, affordable housing alliance.


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