Council adopts new mechanisms to promote affordable housing

Council adopts new mechanisms to promote affordable housing
June 30
10:18 2022

Winston-Salem City City Council members laid the groundwork Tuesday to more aggressively address Winston-Salem’s affordable housing shortage by adopting an Affordable Housing Program and a Housing Justice Act.

The Affordable Housing Program includes a variety of provisions that further the city’s ability to foster the creation of affordable housing. Most importantly, it codifies new rules for the sale of city-owned land that were made possible through enabling legislation sponsored by N.C. Sens. Paul Lowe and Joyce Krawiec.

Another provision in the Affordable Housing Program allows the City to require that 65% of apartments be reserved for low- and moderate-income residents when the city provides land for a housing project.

The Housing Justice Act is designed to reduce homelessness and provide equitable outcomes for city residents by prohibiting housing discrimination based on criminal convictions and sources of income. The Housing Justice Act applies to residential and housing development projects constructed, developed, rehabilitated or renovated, in whole or part, with city funds. Certain exceptions apply.

Council members ranked the need to develop long-term, sustainable funding mechanisms to foster affordable housing as their third highest strategic priority during their strategic planning workshops in March 2021.

Senate Bill 145, approved by the General Assembly in June 2021, allows the City to convey city-owned property to developers at little or no cost for the purpose of increasing the supply of housing for low- and moderate-income residents. Eliminating the cost of land can significantly reduce the overall cost of creating new housing, said Council Member Denise D. Adams, the mayor pro tempore.

“Housing is a passion of mine and our city needs as many tools in the toolbox as possible to deliver high-quality housing for our citizens,” Adams said. “The Housing Justice Act and the passage of enabling legislation regarding the sale of city land gives us the ability to shape our city’s housing policies in a positive manner. I want to thank Senator Lowe and the members of the Forsyth County delegation for their support and assistance in addressing the affordable housing crisis we face in Winston-Salem.” 

Council Member James Taylor Jr., who championed the Housing Justice Act, said, “According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly 100 million adults have a criminal record of some kind, making it difficult to find quality affordable housing for their families. The Housing Justice Act removes this barrier as well as discrimination based on a person’s source of income. It was an honor to work with Mayor Pro Tem Adams and Senator Lowe to create solutions that will increase the ability of our residents to find housing they can afford.”

Adams and Taylor also praised Lowe and the other members of the local delegation to the General Assembly for getting $10 million in state American Recovery Plan Act funds designated for affordable housing in Winston-Salem. That will be combined with $20 million in City ARPA funds that the city has designated for affordable housing.

 City leaders are hopeful that another piece of legislation, which would allow the city to waive fees related to water and sewer lines in developments for low- and moderate-income residents, will also be approved by the General Assembly. Those fees can be as much as $3,000 per lot. Waiving the fees would be another significant reduction in the cost of developing affordable housing.

According to a recent City study, Winston-Salem will need about 8,433 affordable apartments and houses by 2027.

The text of the Affordable Housing Program and the Housing Justice Act can be found in sections 2-9 and 2-10 of Chapter 2 of the City Code of Ordinances.


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