WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The City of Winston-Salem and the non-profit organization Simon G. Atkins Community Development Corp. joined two families as they cut the ribbon on their new homes.
"To be a homeowner for the first time, words can't describe how I feel to get to this milestone in my life," said Alba Gonzalez.
Cynthia McMillian is also a new home owner. Her Hardesty Lane house is a dream come true.
"By 40, I was going to have all of my children and be successful and own my own home," said McMillian. "I'll be 40 in August. I have my kids. I am a teacher. I checked the last box off today," McMillian added.
The two ladies are checking another box. Both families are a key part in bringing new energy into East Winston-Salem.
A partnership between the City of Winston-Salem and the Atkins Community Development Corp, takes vacant lots, builds homes or businesses on them and then encourage qualified families to invest both in home ownership and in the community.
Carol Davis is the executive director of the Simon G. Atkins Community Development Corp. She explained how home ownership is helping the entire community.
"We see home ownership as a great way for wealth building," Davis said. "So, the more we can do to get people into homes, the more they will benefit themselves and the neighborhood will be stabilized."
The two new homes are on Hardesty Lane. The street is named after Charlie Hardesty, the co-founder of Forsyth Seafood Cafe.
Virginia Hardesty explained why the business is committed to investing in East Winston.
"I think the more development you have, it draws additional development," said Hardesty. "We are excited about that. We are looking at a day where the East Winston plan is fulfilled and this is a great step towards it."
The goal of the East End Revitalization Initiative is guide and encourage development in the area between Highway 52 and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
Alba Gonzalez is thrilled to be a homeowner and to be a part of a movement to bring families back to East Winston.
"I moved here from Fayetteville and I have lived in apartments," said Gonzalez. "I haven't been able to unpack. So, I would like to unpack and make this home my home."
The Simon G. Atkins Community Development Corp. owns 11 other lots. The nonprofit is looking forward to starting home construction soon.