City and HAWS try for grant to transform Cleveland Avenue Homes

City and HAWS try for grant to  transform Cleveland Avenue Homes
September 20
03:00 2018

In a last-minute move, the City of Winston-Salem and the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem have once again applied for a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant to transform Cleveland Avenue Homes and New Hope Manor.

This is the third year that the city and HAWS has applied for the grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This time, HAWS is working with McCormack Baron Salazar, a national firm that specializes in revitalizing urban neighborhoods with a history of receiving and implementing Choice grants. HAWs was planning to apply next year, but while working  with McCormack Baron Salazar, it became clear there would be far less competition for the grant this year than next. So to meet a midnight deadline, HAWS and its partners made a presentation to the City Council to get its support during its Monday night meeting, Sept. 17.

To apply for the grant, HAWS is required to partner with the city, which is responsible for “community improvement” projects in the area like roads, streetscapes and parks. The project proposes replacing “distressed” public housing units with “high quality mixed income units” and some housing vouchers. McCormack Baron Salazar would act as property manager with national nonprofit Urban Strategies coordinating services there. Current residents would not lose housing or services if the grant is successful. This sort of item would usually be vetted in committee, but the deadline didn’t allow for that.

To make the application more attractive, the grant area was expanded to include Happy Hill, Winston-Salem State University and Innovation Quarter. The project is in the East and Northeast wards. Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke, who represents the Northeast Ward, wanted assurances that the grant would only be used for Cleveland Avenue Homes and New Hope Manor and threatened to nix the measure if she wasn’t convinced of that commitment.

“I hope we are committed and that we know it is important to keep our word,” she said.

Language was changed to make it explicit that the grant application was for those two developments. If accepted, HUD would only allow the money to be used for the project described in the application.

City Council Member Derwin Montgomery, who represents the East Ward and is also co-owner of The Chronicle, said expanding the grant area allows the investments the city has made in those areas, including downtown development and the rehabilitation of  Union Station and Happy Hill Park, to be used to leverage millions in funding for Cleveland Avenue Homes.

“For the first time, for many people, this will be the opportunity where they see firsthand where investments in central Downtown Winston-Salem directly benefits residents outside of Downtown Winston-Salem,” he said.

After Burke’s concerns were addressed, the item passed the City Council unanimously.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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