‘Victory came at last.’ HAWS to retain, renovate Crystal Towers.

Phillip Carter, president of Housing Justice Now, during a victory rally held for residents of Crystal Towers.

‘Victory came at last.’ HAWS to retain, renovate Crystal Towers.
January 27
10:43 2022

After three years waiting in limbo for approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to sell Crystal Towers, an 11-story public housing unit located on West Sixth Street, HAWS has announced that they will keep Crystal Towers and work with the City of Winston-Salem to make renovations. 

Mayor Allen Joines, who is responsible for appointing members to HAWS’ Board of Commissioners, and several members of the Winston-Salem City Council made it known that they didn’t approve of the sale of Crystal Towers because it would’ve displaced hundreds of seniors and individuals with disabilities. 

Since the sale of the property was made public in 2019, dozens of residents and members of the community have been fighting for the 200 residents who call Crystal Towers home.

In a press release issued on Wednesday, Jan. 18, Kevin Cheshire, executive director of HAWS, said at the time, selling the property was the only viable option to create better housing opportunities, but things have changed. 

“We set out to find a way to create better housing opportunities for the residents and we arrived at a sale as our only viable option. The decision to sell was the right decision at the time given market conditions, funding limitations, and the ability to leverage proceeds to develop alternative, mixed-income housing communities. That was the right decision then – but things have changed, and this is the right decision now.”

In addition to funding from the city to address aging systems inside the building, HAWS plans to take advantage of flexibility granted by HUD in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to improve security, livability, and aesthetics in the building. 

When discussing the city’s partnership with HAWS, Joines said,“I am delighted that the City and HAWS have arrived at a strategy to provide critical updates to Crystal Towers. My goal was to preserve affordable housing in the center city and this new initiative will allow us to do so.” 

Earlier this week, residents gathered outside the building for a “victory rally” to celebrate the building not being sold. Samuel Grier, president of Crystal Towers United, an  initiative started by residents to advocate for other residents, said, “We’ve been fighting for about three and a half years and victory came at last.” 

Grier said the tenants can sleep better at night knowing that they won’t be forced to leave their homes. He said he was grateful for the support they received from Housing Justice Now, a local activist organization,  and others in the community. 

“One person is not going to do it, not in this society,” said Grier during the rally. “We needed a group, we needed a unit of people, and thank God we got em’. We got great support from communities all over Winston-Salem and that’s the reason why we still have Crystal Towers.” 

The $7 million in renovations that was needed for Crystal Towers in 2019 has grown to $10 million. HAWS has already begun the process of requesting proposals to modernize the elevator systems, which have been an issue for sometime. Residents have also made complaints about rodents, roaches, bedbugs, faulty equipment, and little to no communication with management. 

Phillip Carter, president of Housing Justice Now, said they will continue to support the residents of Crystal Towers and ensure that necessary renovations are made. He said keeping the residents downtown is a small victory, but the work has just begun. 

“Housing Justice Now will continue to support the residents of Crystal Towers and I’m sure that the surrounding community will as well,” Carter said. “I was elated as they were when I found out the city finally relented and came up with the money to renovate this building … I hope in the future the residents and the members of Crystal Towers United will be an expected and a respected part of the decision making process.”


About Author

Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors