City OKs New Hope aid, hears sanctuary city request

City OKs New Hope aid, hears sanctuary city request
December 22
04:50 2016



An appeal for Winston-Salem to become a sanctuary city and approving help for New Hope Manor and a multi-use center on Patterson Avenue came before the City Council’ on Mon, Dec. 19.

Several college students spoke during the public comment session in support of Winston-Salem becoming a sanctuary city. They said the designation has no legal meaning and is a “principled position” to serve everyone without discrimination.

Sanctuary cities pledge to leave immigration enforcement to the federal government and not devote local resources to it. This encourages residents to do things like report crime, seek out healthcare and enroll in schools without fear of being deported.

Valeria Cobos, who was brought to the United States by her parents at an early age, told the council she spent most of the last 23 years living “in the shadows” as an undocumented immigrant.  She dropped out of college when she didn’t qualify for federal loans because she was undocumented. It was only recently she was able to continue her education after she was granted permanent residency as a victim of domestic violence.

Cobos said her family remains undocumented with no path to citizenship and worries they may be deported, especially after President-elect Donald Trump promised to deport all undocumented immigrants. While it remains to be seen if deporting 11 million people is even possible, she said if it happened to her loved ones, it would be devastating.

“Nobody wants to lose a member of their family just because somebody decides you’re not a valid human being and that you shouldn’t deserve any kind of right to stay in this country,” she said.

Danny Timpona told the council that federal funds can’t be withheld from sanctuary cities, which includes dozens of cities like New York and Phoenix, Arizona, and most recently, Washington, D.C. He said they’re work-ing on a petition that’ll be presented to the council in January.

Also during the meet-ing, the City Council approved a $1.6 million loan for the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem to purchase and renovate New Hope Manor. Buildings there not fit for habitation will be demolished and the remaining units will undergo rehabilitation. The item was held in a previous meeting because of concern over whether the loan was big enough to make a difference at the complex. After city staff confirmed the planned rehabilitation would bring all the units into code compliance, the council approved it unanimously.

The council also unanimously approved $53,600 in Revitalizing Urban Commercial Areas (RUCA) funds to Azzat Amer to finish transforming a former  7-Up bottling company building at 1800 N. Patterson Ave. into a multi-use building. It’s planned to house a community center and businesses like a garage, salon and convenience store. The measure was controversial among council members since the city has already given $716,000 to the project, which city staff estimates is 90 percent complete.

However, some, like Jeff MacIntosh, said given the scope of the project, it’s not surprising for it to over-shoot original cost estimates. The building was badly damaged, including having a collapsed ceiling, before construction began. Council Members Derwin Montgomery and Vivian Burke said they were impressed by the rehabilitation of the building.

This isn’t the first time that a RUCA project has had to come back for additional funds and council members said they’d like to see changes to the program to prevent that in the future, like possibly limiting how many times one project can get RUCA funds and getting a better upfront  estimate on how much a project could possibly cost.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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