Here’s a look back at the week’s best articles from local media outlets. It was another week under lockdown. But as April turned to May we know that COVID-19 restrictions on our daily life can’t last forever. Something like the normal that we used to take for granted is around the corner. COVID-19 has exposed systemic flaws in our society, “normal” business-friendly policies won’t be adequate to address depression-era unemployment rates and a looming eviction crisis.
Local News Worth Reading:
“The difficulty in navigating these systems feels like it’s by design. Most small businesses applied for PPA at the same time as the big corporations but endured radio silence until news broke that the money was already gone. The funding went to the large corporations and the 1%. Are we to fall into the icy water while the rich and powerful take the lifeboats?”
This was essentially a press release from the City of Winston-Salem. But it’s important to keep an eye on how the City is doling out grants. Perhaps the Mayor’s grant program is better than inaction. But I’d like to see the City of Winston-Salem do more to prevent evictions in the cigarette-city. Rent assistance would make back-up assistance unnecessary.
Brian Hart is replacing Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin as the new director of the Forsyth County Public Library system. I wish Mr. Hart well. The public library system is an important institution in our community. Personally, I would like to see Mr. Hart expand library hours, replace the East Winston Library branch, and add community gardens to library branches-starting with the Central Library.
Apparently, federal stimulus funds haven’t addressed the loss of revenue hospitals have experienced due to COVID-19. Elective surgeries are their bread and butter of our profit-driven healthcare system . Wake Forest Baptist and Novant Health are not going to weather this pandemic unscathed.
Huge corporate slaughterhouses, like Tyson’s chicken plant in Wilkesboro, are Taylor made for spreading COVID-19. Corporate consolidation makes us all less safe. This story was first reported by Triad City Beat. The Journal developed it here, here, and here, Richard Craver’s Sunday feature on the pressures workers face at Tyson reads like a belated May Day article, “Livelihood or life? Paycheck or temperature check? Workday or no pay?”
“About 5,000 of the 55,000 students in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools have not logged on to any of the e-learning platforms set up by teachers after Gov. Roy Cooper closed schools in mid-March to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.” Wow! While it was unrealistic to think that public schools in North Carolina could pivot from classroom to online learning overnight, it’s disappointing to see 9-10 percent of students not even log on. This speaks to entrenched poverty and systemic barriers to learning that has gone largely unaddressed in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County for many years.
Whether an individual staying at a hotel or motel in the state of North Carolina is a resident or a transient is a legal gray area. But an eviction moratorium is an eviction moratorium. It’s unconscionable to see a cancer patient kicked out of multiple hotels during a pandemic. Housing is a human right!
After a lifetime of disinvestment, federal money for the Cleveland Avenue Homes should make finding money for Ashley Elementary easier to secure. The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem just received a $30 million grant from HUD to “transform” the Cleveland Avenue Homes. HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Grant will be leveraged with public funds from the City of Winston-Salem and private investments transform Cleveland Avenue into the Wake Forest Cleveland Quarter. Just kidding the actual name HAWS is floating for the Cleveland Avenue/Liberty Corridor is ‘Newside.’
Precarious living is becoming more precarious every day. Hotel owners can’t evict their guests without going through the proper legal channels. Kudos to my comrades at Housing Justice Now for helping the vulnerable avoid eviction.
“Nearly 1 million households have suffered a high energy burden for years, paying a disproportionately high percentage of their income on monthly energy bills. In Forsyth County, one quarter of the population identifies as low-income and has an energy burden of at least 10%.” Excellent op-ed. Not being able to pay the power bill is not so much a question of individual responsibility as it is a manifestation of a system that is rigged against the poor.
Photo Of The Week: The old Efird Brothers building at Liberty and Sixth. According to local historian Fam Brownlee, the building was erected in 1925 and was both a retail outlet and the warehouse for the Efird Brothers wholesale division. According to Winstonsalemskyscrapers.com, once the building is restored, it will be used for office/ retail use, and possibly a restaurant. After sitting vacant for decades, it’s ironic to see the building being restored during a pandemic. But that’s capitalism for you!