Second phase of housing authority takeover of troubled Winston-Salem apartments underway

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The second phase of the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem’s takeover of the troubled New Hope Apartments is underway.

Two weeks ago, officials began placing letters notifying them that Forsyth Economic Ventures now owns the property, with it being managed by Imperial Property Management Services, and the housing authority taking the lead on rehabbing the grounds and units.

On Thursday, those officials were back on the complex grounds, going door-to-door, meeting all of the residents and asking them for copies of their leases.

“It’s been a big improvement already,” said Charlie Harvey, vice president of construction for the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem, about progress made at the apartments.

Officials say they’re coming in contact with three groups of people; those with valid leases, those who were on the previous ownership’s rent roll but for whom the housing authority had not been provided leases and squatters. Two weeks ago, the housing authority estimated that there were 28 squatters living there, but later said they discovered some people who claimed to have leases in fact did not.

Demolition on some of the buildings is expected to begin next week.

“[We are] doing abatement on six buildings that we’re going to demolish,” Harvey said.

People also paid rent on Thursday, but have until June 6 to pay before they’re charged with a late fee.

The housing authority says there are currently 120 units on the campus, but they plan to bring that number down to 84.

“We ordered new appliances for all the 84 units that we’re [going to] renovate,” Harvey said. “We’re putting new ranges, new refrigerators and new range hoods. In the bathrooms we’re replacing the vanities, replacing all the toilets.”

Harvey added that they have been fixing water damage, plan to replace the floors and have been adding air conditioning for the units.

“A lot of the existing appliances, people are stealing,” Harvey added.

The renovations are not only good news for the people living there legally, but also the surrounding community, which is affected by crime stemming from activity occurring at the apartments.

Harvey said they will be reducing overgrowth on the grounds to improve sight lines for the police department, “so they can observe what’s going on in the community.”

The housing authority plans to return to the apartments on July 6. At that time, those still living there illegally will be given a 10-day notice to vacate. If they are still there at the end of that 10-day period, they will be arrested and charged with trespassing.