Editorial: Housing Authority, reconsider selling Crystal Towers

Editorial: Housing Authority, reconsider selling Crystal Towers
August 23
13:30 2018

Last week the Winston-Salem Housing Authority released its plans to sell Crystal Towers, a 201-unit apartment community that rests in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem.

Crystal Towers provides housing for many of our citizens, including seniors and residents with disabilities. The rents that are paid by those residents are based on income, and can be as affordable as $50. It warms our heart to know that there are apartment complexes in Downtown Winston-Salem that are able to support the presence of all people, regardless of socioeconomic status. After, all, downtown is the city’s living room right?

To learn that the Housing Authority is looking to sell Crystal Towers, their only downtown affordable housing complex available to citizens with socioeconomic challenges, should give us all a great cause for concern.

To be fair, Crystal Towers does have $7 million of unmet capital needs that require immediate attention, and there are current residents that would love to have the opportunity to move to other areas of the city. Nevertheless, the vision for growth in downtown Winston-Salem should include livability for all of our citizens, not just those with big wallets and deep pocketbooks. The Housing Authority should either look to partner with local government or the private sector to come up with solutions that will make the much- needed capital improvements and allow the current residents to move back in to their homes once the improvements have been completed. We should send a strong message that downtown is not just for the privileged and the wealthy. 

Poor people and people of color are being forced out and priced out from downtowns all across America through the process of gentrification. The removal of the Crystal Towers residents from our downtown community in exchange for more market rate or luxury housing will strongly confirm the notion that gentrification is alive and well in Winston-Salem.

The Housing Authority Board should reconsider its position to sell Crystal Towers and take the time to seek partnerships that will preserve the already scarcely available affordable housing. Failure to reconsider the sell of Crystal Towers just may go down in history as the biggest community blunder since the construction of Highway 52 for communities of color. This time we must find ourselves on the right side of history, because anything less would simply be uncivilized. 

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