In August 2018, the Winston-Salem Housing Authority put Crystal Towers up for sale. Last summer, the Journal reported that the Arden Group (car dealers turned real estate developers) made an offer to purchase Crystal. Yet, Crystal Towers is not a downtown redevelopment story.
Selling Crystal Towers, removing 200 poor and elderly (majority POC) residents from downtown to god-knows-where is GENTRIFICATION! If you don’t believe me, ask Councilmember Jeff MacIntosh. MacIntosh called Crystal Towers “a textbook definition of gentrification” in September 2018.
The 201 unit, high-rise towers, is a 100 percent disability building. Crystal opened in 1970 as public housing dedicated to senior citizens. In recent years, in addition to seniors, the Housing Authority has housed the “chronically” homeless and other vulnerable populations at Crystal Towers.
Crystal Towers provides truly affordable housing near urban amenities. Selling Crystal and displacing its residents from Downtown Winston-Salem would be an injustice. We can’t sit back and let that happen. We must pressure the City Council to act.
Fortunately, the state of Crystal Towers isn’t as bad as the Housing Authority has stated publicly.
Both the Journal and The Chronicle have reported that it would take $7 million to rehabilitate and modernize Crystal Towers. But thankfully, community activists and mayoral candidate, JoAnne Allen didn’t take HAWS CEO Larry Woods at his word. She demanded to see HAWS’ documents. And it’s my pleasure to share HAWS’ documents with the public.
Crystal Towers hasn’t “fallen $7 million behind in maintenance.” That number is actually the maintenance costs that HAWS projects over 20 years. Crystal Towers
“is on track to generate a loss of over $160,000.00 this year.” (pg 156). $160,000 isn’t that much money if you think about it. It’s roughly what one of the City of Winston-Salem’s Assistant City Manager makes annually.
HAWS’ assertion that the high costs associated with maintaining Crystal Towers jeopardizes the “ongoing operation of all public housing in Winston-Salem” is absurd (pg 176). The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem’s transition from public housing to retail development is what is really threatening public housing in Winston-Salem. Why does our local housing authority own a commercial building on Fourth Street?
I invite members of the media and concerned citizens to read through this document. It speaks for itself. Public housing in Downtown Winston-Salem can be preserved; it’s crucial that the City of Winston-Salem and the Winston-Salem Housing Authority protect Crystal Towers. I would argue that saving Crystal Towers is as important as building a new school for Ashley Academy. As our local community has a moral obligation to educate the young, we also have a moral obligation to house the elderly and disabled.
Page 2, 201 Elderly/Disabled Designated Units
Page 3, Relocation Timeline, Available Public Housing Units
Page 13, The Housing Authority’s plan for undeveloped lots in Happy Hill
Page 82, HAWS August 15, 2018 press release, announcing the sale of Crystal Towers
Page 83, HAWS letter to Mayor Joines asking him to endorse the sale of Crystal Towers
Page 85, Mayor Joines reply to Larry Woods
Page 86, Larry Woods second letter to Mayor Joines
Page 87, Joines brief reply to Woods’ letter
Page 101-109, Crystal Towers property/tax value documents
Page 112, breakdown of Crystal Towers’ resident’s race/ethnicity
Page 114-115, Relocation Counseling and Advisory Services
Page 117-118, Comparable Housing Resources
Page 120, Tenant Protection Vouchers
Page 122, Consultation Process with Crystal Towers Residents
Page 156, Justification for selling Crystal Towers
Page 156, $5,128,000 purchase price
Page 158-167, Needs Assesment
Page 169, Crystal Towers Elevators
Page 170, Crystal Towers, Operating Losses
Page 176, Continued Justification for selling Crystal Towers
Page 183, Physical Needs Assessment
Page 187, Housing Authority, Pest Control
Page 188, Crystal Towers Elevators (again)
Page 189, Crystal Towers Operating Losses (again)
Page 191, Terms of Sale
Page 193, Public Benefit(?), HAWS’ future plans