Rezoning issue moves residents Salvation Army gets Council vote delay 

Rezoning issue moves residents Salvation Army gets Council vote delay 
May 07
00:00 2015
(Above: Photo by Erin Mizelle for the Winston-Salem Chronicle- The City Council meeting on Monday, May 4, in downtown Winston-Salem draws a large crowd of the community with a vested interest in the placement of the homeless shelter.)

While both the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem and The Salvation Army will have to wait to hear City Council’s decision on the rezoning of 939 Cleveland Ave., all three parties heard the voices of those who live in the Cleveland Avenue community as they filled council chamber  Tuesday night to capacity.

The room, which can hold up to 78 people including council members and city staff, was full of those pressing to make sure their voices were heard before council made its decision.

The Salvation Army asked Council to table its vote on the rezoning for 60 days to allow the agency to look into other options.

“At this point in time, The Salvation Army is not comfortable withdrawing or moving forward,” said Major James Allison. “We need to pause to allow ourselves more time to explore and evaluate the situation and our options.”

The nonprofit would like to purchase the daycare building from Greater Cleveland Christian Church and turn it into an estimated 90-bed facility to house homeless families made up of mostly single women and children.

The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem feels the shelter would have a chilling effect on investors, including new homeowners, impacting the area’s Cleveland Avenue Initiative Master plan to revitalize the community and bring economic development to the area.

That motion was unanimously accepted along with leaving the public hearing open so that residents may speak at the July 20 meeting where the issue will be heard.

Local resident Marva Reid asked the council to vote no on the rezoning.

“The city has a pattern of sanitizing certain areas and negatively impacting other areas,” she said. “We have a master plan and ask that you be consistent with us, and ask that you adhere to it.”

Councilwoman Denise D. Adams said that she has seen the concentration of the people that need the most, concentrated with the neighborhoods that need the most in the last few years. That’s her reason for not supporting the rezoning.

“We know we have to help people, but you can’t keep putting all the helped people with the poor people with the people who are economically disadvantaged. It doesn’t give the neighborhoods a chance to develop into something sustainable economically, investment and hope to poor people,” she said. “If you are a child growing up and all you see is poor people, drug addicts, people not working, people committing crimes and people hanging out, what do you think that child is going to become?

Resident Estella Brown said that the area is already struggling and full of disparities, without the added burden of a homeless shelter. 

“What other than housing would the people in that area benefit from? Would people who live there be able to be trained to work there, or would there be people brought from another area to be trained? Sometimes that area is totally forgotten,” Brown said to the council. “Have any of you just taken the time to ride through the streets? I’m not talking about in the daytime but in the evening and at night, to actually see what goes on.”

Councilman Robert Clark said the city has dealt with rezoning shelters in the past and said he often finds that they are unwanted.

“In my 14 years on this council, I will say that no one wants a homeless shelter in their neighborhood. No one wants a homeless shelter or group home, for that matter, in their neighborhood, but they’re needed,” he said. “I don’t know where to put it but I hope in the next 60 days that those folks up here and those folks in the audience can hopefully get together and try to come up with some answers because it is certainly a problem that needs to be addressed. But at the same time, and I’ll go on the record, I don’t want it in my neighborhood, either, so what do you do? I don’t know.”

N.C. House Rep. Evelyn Terry attended the public hearing and urged the council to end the economic segregation and revitalize and stabilize the community.

“The reality of that disinvestment from the business community lends itself to that because there is no critical mass that they see that could cause them to make that profit that they need or come into the community to do something that uplifts it,” she said.

Ward representative, Councilman Derwin Montgomery, said that the show of opinion on Tuesday night was the hallmark of what citizen participation and community looks like.

“It’s when individuals have a concern or an issue about something they come out and voice that concern, whether it comes out in the manner they desire or not,” Montgomery said.

City Council will hear the rezoning issue again on July 20 at 7 p.m. at City Hall in Room 230. The meeting can also be viewed live online at, or by watching the city’s television station (WSTV-13) on Time Warner Cable on channel 13.

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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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