HAWS, City of Winston-Salem break ground on Choice Neighborhoods Initiative

HAWS, City of Winston-Salem break ground on Choice Neighborhoods Initiative
December 21
10:50 2022

After more than two years of meetings, paperwork and planning, the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative took a giant step forward when representatives from the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem (HAWS) and city officials came together last week to break ground on Phase 1 of the project that is expected to bring affordable housing to areas in the city that need it most. 

In 2019, the City of Winston-Salem was awarded the Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grant. The $30 million grant, which is distributed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is designed to help replace outdated public housing units with mixed housing and single-family homes. Over the next four years the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) is expected to bring more than 400 units of affordable housing to the Northeast and East Wards. 

While most of the grant will be used to revitalize housing and living conditions in the Cleveland Avenue neighborhood, Phase 1 will focus on the site of the former Brown Elementary School, located at the corner of Highland Avenue and Eleventh Street. Phase 1 will include 81 townhomes and apartments with a mix of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units. 

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Kevin Cheshire, executive director of HAWS, noted that it has been almost exactly eight years to the day that HAWS purchased the old Brown Elementary property from Shiloh Baptist Church. Two years after they bought the property, the structure was damaged in a fire. “I remember standing right over there and watching the fire smolder and wondering if anything would ever rise from those ashes and today answer that question with a resounding yes,” Cheshire said. He said while the CNI is investing a lot of capital into construction, the initiative is also about investing in the people with things such as workforce development, access to childcare, and access to public transportation. 

“This targeted redevelopment is part of a comprehensive plan to transform a community by investing in the people who live in that community and in the neighborhood which surrounds it, not just the housing,” Cheshire continued. “If we don’t get the investment in our people, and if we don’t get the investment in the surrounding neighborhood, and if we’re not fully committed to that, all this is expensive housing. This project has to be transformational.” 

Longtime resident of the Cleveland Avenue Neighborhood Sabrina Brown said in order for the community to reach its full potential, there needs to be something in place for the young people in the community. 

“If we want this community to be great, we have to have something for our young people to do because if you don’t have nothing for our young people to do, they’re going to tear up our new community,” Brown said. “We want our community to be the best. We don’t want it to be like the old Cleveland, the old Happy Hill, like Piedmont Circle. We want it to be the best when we bring this new community up.” 

Leasing opportunity for CNI is expected to begin in early 2024. For more information on the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, visit 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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