This month’s meeting of the Winston-Salem City Council’s Finance Committee once again addressed substandard living conditions at the New Hope Manor Apartments. See Jordan Green’s article at Triad City Beat for a good write-up of this issue. The last several months has seen a considerable amount of the city council’s time being spent on two troubled low-income apartment complexes; Rolling Hills and New Hope Manor. Rolling Hills and New Hope Manor were both allowed to deteriorate into disrepair by their absentee owners.
A buyer stepped forward to purchase Rolling Hills and invest in the sub-standard complex’s renovation. In fact, the city council successfully negotiated with the new owners of Rolling Hills to substantially increase the amount of money allocated for renovations. Rolling Hills appears to be in good hands. Once the renovations are completed, residents at once Rolling Hills will once again have housing fit for human habitation.
New Hope Manor is proving to be a more difficult problem for the city to solve. Larry Woods, CEO of the Winston-Salem Housing Authority (HAWS) is seeking approval from the city council to repair/renovate the units at New Hope Manor. Long-term the Housing Authority wants to raze New Hope Manor with grant funds it hopes to receive from HUD’s Choice Neighborhood initiative. City Council members are hesitant to invest in a project that will meet the federal bulldozer in just a few year’s time.
While it’s not clear how the City of Winston-Salem and the Winston-Salem Housing Authority can best address the problems at New Hope Manor, it should be abundantly clear that New Hope Manor is a product of failed policies. HAWS runs public housing like it’s a business. HAWS’ privatization of public housing has won the praise of conservatives, such as 5th District Congresswoman Virginia Foxx. But we’re seeing once again that private profit and low-income housing aren’t a good mix.
The two white, conservative owners of New Hope Manor have run New Hope into the ground. Of the approximately 120 units, 50-60 units are vacant and have been vandalized, according to Mr. Woods. Squatters and vandals have reportedly moved into the vacant units. Councilwoman Burke mentioned the fear that rent-paying residents have told her they live in each day.
The Cleveland Avenue Revitalization plan is still years away and contingent on funds that have yet to be pledged. HAWS needs to admit its failure at Rolling Hills and New Hope Manor. Going forward HAWS must strengthen its commitment to low-income residents in East Winston. We should all appreciate the leadership Councilman Montgomery and Mayor Pro Tem Burke have shown on the issue low-income housing. Mr. Woods and HAWS have betrayed the poor people of color who have no other housing options. Residents living in HAWS properties and their allies in Winston should continue to organize and rally against HAWS indifference to the plight of the poor.