Winston-Salem has new rules to promote affordable housing

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North Carolina Construction News staff writer

Winston-Salem council members have approved an affordable housing program and housing justice act aimed at creating affordable housing and codifying new rules for the sale of city-owned land.

Another provision in the affordable housing program will allow the city to require that 65 percent of apartments be reserved for low- and moderate-income residents when the city provides land for a housing project. The Housing Justice Act applies to residential and housing development projects constructed, developed, rehabilitated or renovated, in whole or part, with city funds. Certain exceptions apply.

Senate Bill 145, approved by the General Assembly in June 2021, allows the city to convey city-owned property to developers at little or no cost for the purpose of increasing the supply of housing for low- and moderate-income residents. Eliminating the cost of land can significantly reduce the overall cost of creating new housing, said Council Member Denise D. Adams, the mayor pro tempore.

“Housing is a passion of mine and our city needs as many tools in the toolbox as possible to deliver high-quality housing for our citizens,” Adams said. “The Housing Justice Act and the passage of enabling legislation regarding the sale of city land gives us the ability to shape our city’s housing policies in a positive manner. I want to thank Senator Lowe and the members of the Forsyth County delegation for their support and assistance in addressing the affordable housing crisis we face in Winston-Salem.”

“According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly 100 million adults have a criminal record of some kind, making it difficult to find quality affordable housing for their families,” said Council member James Taylor Jr. “The Housing Justice Act removes this barrier as well as discrimination based on a person’s source of income.”

City leaders are hopeful that another piece of legislation, which would allow the city to waive fees related to water and sewer lines in developments for low- and moderate-income residents, will also be approved by the General Assembly. Those fees can be as much as $3,000 per lot. Waiving the fees would be another significant reduction in the cost of developing affordable housing.

According to a recent city study, Winston-Salem will need about 8,433 affordable apartments and houses by 2027.

In 2020, the Winston-Salem Housing Authority received a grant through the “Choose Your Neighborhood” to redevelop the Cleveland Homes community.

The $150 million construction project received $30 million in grant money and the first of five phases is underway and expected to be completed by the fall of 2023.

As the project nears completion, construction will begin on phase two at Cleveland Homes.

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