WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The name “New Hope Manor” has been a misleading one for people living in and around the apartments for years.
“At the end of the day, ain’t nobody giving us hope to believe that it’s gonna be OK,” said two-year New Hope resident Sarah Land.
The apartments are a hotbed for crime, paired with terrible living conditions for the residents. Winston-Salem police say they’ve been called out to the apartments 187 times in 2017, including 24 assaults, 22 illegal weapons and 16 drug violations.
“It does spill over into the footprint around this area,” said Captain Mike Weaver, of the Winston-Salem Police Department, of crime in New Hope Manor.
Residents have complained of the state of the apartments for years, for anything from piles of trash to poor unit maintenance.
“It’s horrible living out here,” Land said. “Leaking pipes, mold, rodent infestation.”
Police have also been called out six times for trespassing calls, but the problem with people living there illegally isn’t reflected in that figure. The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem estimates that there were about 28 squatters living there.
“We must have taken out at least four or five dozen mattresses,” said Larry Woods, Housing Authority of Winston-Salem CEO.
However, there may be new hope for New Hope Manor. As of this week, it is under new ownership.
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.
“We’re not coming in with any strong-armed tactics,” Woods said.
On Thursday, the housing authority, with the help of several Winston-Salem police officers, went door-to-door, placing notices on them notifying the people living inside of changes to come.
The housing authority says there are currently 120 units there, but some will be demolished and that number will be brought down to 84.
The grounds already look better than they have in years, with landscapers tending to the cosmetics and contractors cleaning out and boarding up units.
On Monday, they say they removed seven truckloads of trash which had been on the grounds and that does not include trash which was in the units.
On Thursday, workers were still in hazmat suits cleaning out the units. Inside some were visible graffiti, flies, and damage from thieves who tore out walls and ceilings.
“Every day you walk outside, it’s a different smell,” Land said. “It smells like death.”
Although there have already been visible changes, residents like Land remain skeptical that the transition will be an easy one and unsure if they will continue to be residents there.
“It’s not fair to us, and it’s not fair to the kids or the elderly that have to go through this,” she said.
Yet, some have seen the changes as a positive.
“When she woke up this morning, and looked out the window, she didn’t know where she was,” Woods said, of one resident. “The grass was cut, no trash on the ground, no one loitering, she thought she had died and gone to heaven.”
This project is part of a larger-scale facelift for the area of Cleveland Avenue. Police say redeveloping New Hope Manor will help them better police the area and deter criminals from coming in the gates.
“We’re going to have buy-in from people that are here legitimately, that care about the appearance,” Weaver said.
The housing authority will return to New Hope Manor on June 1, to meet each of the people living there and inspect their units.
They will also try to get all of the people living there illegally into a lease. They will then return two weeks later and anyone who is still living there without a lease will be removed.
“If they’re not here legally, and they’re squatting, and causing problems, we will be taking legal action,” Woods said.
The letter provided to residents reads as follows:
Dear New Hope Manor Tenant:
Greetings! Thank you for making New Hope Manor your home. We want to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves. The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem’s non-profit arm, Forsyth Economic Ventures, Inc., recently purchased New Hope Manor. Your apartment community will be managed by Imperial Property Management Services, Inc. Please use the contact information at the top of this notice for all work order requests and rental concerns.
Please be advised that representatives of the management company will be coming out for a meet-and-greet visit on the morning of Thursday, June 1st in order to get to know you a little better. We hope you will be available to talk with us and go door-to-door in the community. During the meet and greet we will be requesting a copy of your lease (if available), photo identification and verifying the household occupants and rental payments reflected in your lease match records that we have been provided.
If for some reason you do not have a written lease and/or your residency is not reflected on the previous manager’s rent roll, we will work with you to obtain the needed paperwork. However, individuals who are unauthorized and/or unlawful occupants of New Hope Manor (meaning “squatters” and others who do not have a valid lease agreement) will not be permitted to continue to reside on the property. If you are an unauthorized and/or unlawful occupant, we will provide information on alternative housing options and supportive services that can assist you. We will also provide reasonable opportunity for you to remove your belongings and vacate the community.
We hope to begin renovations to the community very soon. Through meetings and notices, please trust that you will be kept well-informed throughout the process. We also welcome your input!!!
Please note that the New Hope Manor Apartments will continue to remain an affordable housing community. The Housing Authority’s involvement will not result in the conversion of the property to a public housing community or the issuance of residents of (Section 8) Housing Choice Vouchers.
This is an exciting time at your apartment community, but we also understand that you may have reservations and concerns. Our knowledgeable management team will be available to answer questions and assist you where necessary. Please do not hesitate to contact us.
New Hope Manor Management Team.