Affordable housing dispute divides Winston-Salem City Council

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The Winston-Salem City Council on Monday approved nearly $3 million for proposals to increase the supply of affordable housing and labor, but the one planned for the northeast neighborhood sparked controversy when the ward council member objected to the expense.

By a 5-3 vote, council approved spending $290,000 in permanent funding so a developer, Infill Delicate LLC, can convert two single-family homes off Old Greensboro Road and build nine new units for a total of 12 affordable housing units on property that was once part of the non-profit Human Service Alliance campus at the corner of Old Greensboro and Reidsville roads.

Northeast ward council member Barbara Burke gave an impassioned speech calling on fellow council members to reject funding on the grounds that her ward has more pressing housing needs.

“My constituents … have asked me to focus on the degraded areas that already exist in the Northeast Ward,” Burke said. “They asked me, if there are dollars for housing, can we use those dollars for housing in existing communities where the blight exists?”

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Burke said another issue with the expense was that the tract “is an isolated area.”

“There is no economic mobility,” Burke said. “There’s no immediate access to a grocery store or restaurants…a pharmacy or recreation areas. It’s not close to anything…there’s no transportation here.”

Instead of building new homes, Burke said, money from the housing finance relief fund should be used to deal with issues such as vacant and abandoned homes that are attracting trouble, repairing run-down homes or light or pave streets.

Other council members did not respond to Burke on Monday evening, but when housing was discussed in the finance committee last week, supporters explained how the project would be a step forward in providing more housing. affordable.

In addition to the new units, the project would include the conversion of a building that houses 20 efficient apartments into one that contains 10 apartments with a rent range of $611 to $1,560.

In the council vote, Burke garnered dissenting votes from fellow council members John Larson and James Taylor. Board members DD Adams, Robert Clark, Jeff MacIntosh, Kevin Mundy and Annette Scippio voted for funding, and in the majority.

Other approved housing proposals:

* City Council approved $800,000 in assistance to Habitat for Humanity from ARPA funds so the organization can complete road development in the Stone Terrace development in the Ogburn Station neighborhood .

And by completing the roads, Habitat will be able to build 75 homes in the low-to-moderate income range and increase the city’s supply of affordable housing.

A city official said the Stone Terrace development was approved and flat in 2007, but lay dormant during the 2008 recession after several homes were built on Don Avenue.

Habitat stepped in and purchased the remaining lots in 2019. The lots are all equipped with utilities, water and sewer services, and stormwater systems, but most streets still remain unfinished. object of paving works, curbs and gutters.

The city’s money will allow Habitat to complete the street work and thus move forward on what are considered “ready to build” lots in the development.

Most homes will be for families earning between 35% and 80% of the region’s median income, although a small portion will be for families earning between 80% and 120% of the region’s median income. the region. This is intended to create more of a mixed-income community.

Once the development is complete, the city said, it should generate about $107,000 a year in property tax revenue for the city, based on an average sale price of $145,000.

*The city has approved the sale of 31 vacant lots in the Ridgewood Place subdivision near High Point Road to developer True Homes for $608,300. The price represents the tax value of the goods.

The sale is conditional on the properties being developed for affordable housing of the properties, but the developer does not receive any financial assistance from the city to build the units.

Under municipal housing regulations, properties must remain affordable for 15 years.

* The city is using $300,000 of ARPA funds to pay 10% of a Boston-Thurmond Community Network’s $3 million request for land acquisition, so the group can bank land for future development of affordable housing.

The grant follows last month’s action to award the Boston-Thurmond Organization $2.5 million in ARPA funds that will go toward various operational needs of the neighborhood revitalization effort. Part of this money will be used to hire a consultant to conduct a landscape analysis of the neighborhood and determine options for housing development, as well as the expansion of health and wellness services.

*Whole Man Ministries of North Carolina is receiving $450,000 in ARPA funds for the city for its Housing 4 Our Heroes project to provide affordable housing for a homeless family and three veterans. The money will be used to buy a property, bring it up to code, make the units energy efficient and provide them with high-speed internet access, security cameras and smoke detectors.

* Christ Rescue Temple Apostolic Church receives $410,000 in ARPA funds to renovate 34 church-owned apartments. The money will go for new appliances, new flooring, air conditioning units, windows, roofing, etc., as well as landscaping to spruce up the properties. To improve security, security cameras will also be installed.

* SG Atkins Community Development Corp. is receiving $600,000 in ARPA funds for the construction of a community “co-housing” pilot building to provide housing for up to five single mothers and up to 10 children at a time.

Families would have their own living areas and bedrooms, but would share the kitchen, living room, dining room, and other spaces for laundry and study. Residents are expected to pay $600 per month for rent and utilities. Atkins said the family would be carefully selected and limited to those most likely to benefit from the arrangement. Residents would work together to develop rules for the operation of communal housing.

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