City loan to HAWS for New Hope Manor Apartments advances

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The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem is seeking a $1.6 million loan to buy New Hope Manor. (file photo)

A panel of Winston-Salem City Council is moving forward a loan request from the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem to acquire a troubled apartment complex.

The finance committee of Winston-Salem City Council green-lighted a $1.6 million loan to the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem to acquire the troubled New Hope Manor Apartments. The unanimous vote by the four-member panel on Monday forwards the request to the full council for consideration at its next meeting on Dec. 19. Mayor Allen Joines, who votes only in the event of a tie on the eight-member council, attended the finance committee meeting and spoke in support of the loan, all but ensuring its approval on Dec. 19.

The acquisition of New Hope Manor Apartments is considered essential to the housing authority’s efforts to revitalize the area around Cleveland Avenue Homes, a public housing community. The city has already committed $4.5 million to support the effort in the event that the US Department of Housing & Urban Development approves a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant. City leaders have come to view the privately owned New Hope Manor Apartments, which are located about a block away from Cleveland Avenue Homes, as a potential downward drag on the revitalization effort. Housing Authority CEO Larry Woods told council members last month that many families in the apartments are enduring heating breakdowns, sewage backups and a lack of security because of inoperable locks, although owner Bob Crumley denied that the property had outstanding code violations. Woods also said that many of the units have been taken over by squatters and that the apartment complex regularly draws crowds of people who converge to drink and listen to loud music.

The housing authority ultimately plans to tear down the buildings, rebuild, and lease the new apartments at market rate.

Kevin Cheshire, general counsel for the housing authority, acknowledged to council members during the finance committee meeting on Monday that there was a discrepancy in documents his agency submitted to the city to represent reported financial losses by Crumley and his business partner, Nathan Tabor. A Nov. 18 letter from the housing authority to Joines represents that the owners are taking a net loss of $700,000 on the sale, but an affidavit submitted by Crumley indicates that he and Tabor have invested a total of $1.1 million in the property while not taking any profits, commissions, salaries or other compensation. Cheshire told council that the $1.1 million figure is the accurate one.

Councilman Derwin Montgomery, who is not a member of the finance committee but participated in the meeting, retorted that he doesn’t believe anything the owners say about financial losses from the investment.