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Low-income residents forced to move out of apartments in Winston-Salem

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Nearly 75 families living on fixed incomes at Westside Apartments will have to find a new place to live. 

The City-County Planning board approved rezoning the complex so developers can tear it down for upscale apartments. 

Residents, including veterans and Hurricane Katrina survivors say, they just found out about the plans last month and are not financial able to move quickly. 

"They notified the community around us to make a decision about our home and now we are going to be displaced," said current resident Navonda Harris. "We don't have money to move anywhere else."

Vision Development of Greensboro wants to build two seven-story buildings, with 166 apartments that will include a clubhouse, pool and other amenities inside a gated community.

The property near Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center will be marketed toward medical students and doctors.  

A representative for Vision Development told the board they will honor all current leases.  

"It's a travesty. Its really an awful thing that is happening to these people especially on short notice," said Carrether Gilliam who found out about the new plans last month and says she is having a hard time finding a new home for her disabled son whose lease runs out next month.

"If they had known in January they could of been looking, saving up money.  We've been looking and we can't find nothing that compares to it."

Many residents and even some planning board members say this is an example of a city that has plenty of upscale and low-income housing but very little affordable housing.

"What can I do?  I'm a 80 year old man. It's not going to be easy to find an apartment," said John Spoloric a purple heart veteran of the Koren War. 

Spoloric has lived at Westside for 30 years and says while the owners may honor his lease until Spring, they've already thrown in the towel in keeping the property up. 

"They don't even have maintenance over here no more," said Spoloric.

The issue now moves on to the city council for final approval. 

The new property owners say they will do everything that’s legally required to help current residents find new places to live.