Ministers’ Conference plans action on devalued property in W-S

Ministers’ Conference plans action on devalued property in W-S
September 07
04:00 2017

The Minister’s Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity’s (MCWSV) social justice committee has long fought to address issues that plague the Triad community.  In conjunction with the local branch of the NAACP, the MCWSV held a press conference last Thursday in support of the residents whose properties they believe have been devalued by the county Tax Administration.

The press conference, which was held at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, was held to notify the public of the difference of opinion the conference and NAACP have toward county Tax Assessor John Burgiss. 

The major point of concern for the organizers was that the properties in question were all in the eastern portion of the city between Waughtown and Liberty streets where African-Americans are the largest demographic.  They also raised concerns that statistics show that 70 percent of the county saw a rise in property value, while the areas in questions did not.

“Our contention is that the devaluation of those properties has little to do with the market and is driven by systemic and institutional racism instead,” said Dr. Dennis Leach Sr., senior pastor of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church and MCWSV social justice committee member.

Leach went on to speak about an appeal filed by the City Council to the Forsyth County Board of Equalization regarding the “questionable practices,” which resulted with the Board of Equalization informing the City Council that its “hands were tied” by a state statue called the Schedule of Values.

According to the conference, the people in these various communities have been dealing with the devaluing of their property for quite some time.  The MCWSV has been involved with this fight dating back to 2012.  They stated the difference this time around is that since their concerns are not being addressed, further action will be taken beyond filing appeals.  Leach stated that the U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) has taken over the investigation. 

Alvin Carlisle, president of the local NAACP chapter, stated that the chapter is in “full support and full partnership” with the ministers’ conference in its efforts to create a plan or strategy to reverse the policy that has led to the devaluation of properties that are located primarily in the “black community.”

“At the NAACP, one of our passions is that we fight against economic discrimination,” said Carlisle.  “We fully feel that these policies that have been set forth tend to lead toward greater economic discrimination among African-Americans.  There is already a lack of investment in primarily African-American communities and we feel like these policies only serve to drain the wealth even more in these communities.”

Bishop Todd Fulton, chairman of the MCWSV social justice committee, brought in hundreds of appeals from the affected communities to show how many individuals are concerned about their property values.  He stated that it is in the county’s best interest to re-evaluate how taxes are calculated in those communities.

Fulton, Leach and Carlisle stated the people in these neighborhoods are deeply concerned about the direction things are going with their properties.  Some have expressed the displeasure with the fact the value of their homes are now lower than what they purchased them for, which prohibits them from the potential of selling their homes if they wanted to.

At the time of the press conference, there had been no correspondence from Burgiss or the Board of Equalization on the matters at hand.  The conference has been in contact with a civil rights attorney pending any unfavorable results from the HUD investigation.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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