Featured photo: Clifford Apartments residents and activists speak in front of city hall in Winston-Salem, Dr. Arnita Miles addresses the crowd on Jan. 8. (photo by Gale Melcher)

After months of uncertainty, tenants of an affordable housing complex in downtown Winston-Salem are seeking to purchase their home.

Tucked away behind West End Boulevard, 800 N. Spring St, otherwise known as Clifford Apartments, was formerly owned by nonprofit organization Experiment in Self-Reliance. ESR has long partnered with the city, which has given them hundreds of thousands of dollars since 1993 to purchase and renovate the property. The organization put the eight-unit complex on the market in October without the city’s knowledge, city leaders said. In November 2023, city councilmembers voted to purchase the property from ESR for $760,000. 

In January, city leaders agreed to sell the property to local developer Jared Rogers for $600,000 with the condition that the units remain affordable. Residents currently pay $580-675 in monthly rent, and Rogers has agreed to freeze current tenants’ rent through the end of 2025. 

However, many of the residents and local tenants’ rights group Housing Justice Now have been fighting against the sale, rallying instead to urge the city to sell the property to the tenants themselves.

In an April 8 email from HJN to City Attorney Angela Carmon, the organization pointed out that the 30-day due diligence period had passed and the deed still hadn’t changed hands from the city to Rogers, according to property records.

Carmon responded, writing, “As with most sales, there is a fair amount of back and forth regarding agreements and the terms thereof,” adding that she has been discussing the purchase and development agreement with Rogers’ lawyer, which is in the process of being reviewed by his lender. Carmon added that the sale “should take place in the near future.”

In an Instagram post over the weekend, HJN stated that Rogers has “now agreed to step down from buying the complex” and that the tenants have secured “the opportunity to buy their units,” adding that the residents have started a nonprofit called the Housing Spring Company.

“The nonprofit was started for us to have a way to be able to let the city know that we want to be self-reliant and we want to take care of our community ourselves,” resident Gerick Walker said in an interview with TCB

However, Carmon stated to TCB that Rogers is still in talks to purchase the property, which Rogers confirmed in an interview with TCB.

Rogers explained that his stance is still as it’s always been: “If another nonprofit could step up and could buy the property, I would step away.”

Walker, with the newly formed nonprofit, told TCB that the group hadn’t contacted the city yet because they “wanted to make sure [they] had [their] ducks in a row.”

Since tenants haven’t formally reached out to the city yet, Rogers is still pursuing the property.

In January, Rogers told TCB that he hoped tenants could secure Section 8 housing choice vouchers. For tenants with Section 8 vouchers, rent and utilities cost 30 percent of their income while the rest of the bill is footed by the local housing authority. 

“We’re looking at this as a gateway to doing more Section 8 housing,” Rogers told TCB at the time.

In mid-March, the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem announced that their Section 8 waitlist application would open at 9 a.m. on April 2 and close at 5 p.m. on April 4.

In an April 14 press release, HJN claimed that residents were “unaware this took place, and received no help applying, thus locking them out of the Section 8 program indefinitely.”

However, Rogers disputed HJN’s claims. He told TCB that he spoke to Walker on the phone multiple times about the voucher program in the days and weeks leading up to the program opening, with Walker telling him that he and other residents intended on applying. Walker confirmed to TCB that Rogers reached out to him, then Walker got in touch with his neighbors to let them know they should apply and helped them fill out the application. In a text to TCB, Walker said that he applied to the program, helped three tenants apply and that another two are already recipients of Section 8. Two tenants didn’t apply — one was not eligible due to income, Walker wrote, adding that the other tenant worked a lot and “didn’t have time.” Rogers also said that he went to the complex to post notices on each door, notifying tenants that the application was open, when it closed, where to go to fill it out and to contact him if they had any questions. He said that none of the residents reached out to him.

Since the property left ESR’s hands in November 2023, Walker told TCB that the apartments have been handled by two different property management companies contracted by the city, resulting in maintenance delays. At one point, residents didn’t have a place to put their garbage for a month.

“These are things that we believe as residents we can fix ourselves and take care of ourselves,” Walker said. “We can take care of our own community and not be left in the hands of another landlord that’s not from our community.” 

All CityBeat reporting content is made possible by a grant from the NC Local News Lab Fund, available to republish for free by any news outlet who cares to use it. Learn More ↗

Republish this story 🞬

Republishing Content

All content created for the CityBeat— photos, illustrations and text — is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives 4.0 license (CCA-ND).

These republishing rules DO NOT apply to all of our content. The CityBeat is a nonprofit-funded position that specifically reports on city council business in Winston-Salem and Greensboro.

You are free to republish all content from the CityBeat under the following conditions:

  • Please copy and paste an html tracking code into articles you post online, allowing us to access analytics on our work.
    It can be dropped onto the page right beneath the copyable content, available below.

    If your site is using Google Analytics already:

        gtag('config', 'UA-49884744-1');
        gtag('event', 'page_view', {
            page_title: 'Residents of Clifford Apartments in W-S continue fight to purchase complex from the city',
            page_location: 'https://triad-city-beat.com/w-s-affordable-housing-residents-seek-to-purchase-home/',
            send_to: 'UA-49884744-1'

    If your site is not using Google Analytics:

    <script async src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtag/js?id=UA-49884744-1"></script>
        window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || [];
        function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);}
        gtag('js', new Date());
        gtag('config', 'UA-49884744-1');
        gtag('event', 'page_view', {
            page_title: 'Residents of Clifford Apartments in W-S continue fight to purchase complex from the city',
            page_location: 'https://triad-city-beat.com/w-s-affordable-housing-residents-seek-to-purchase-home/',
            send_to: 'UA-49884744-1'

  • Please use our bylines with attribution to Triad City Beat with a live link to our website: "by Gale Melcher/Triad City Beat"
  • At the bottom of the article (print or web) please include this text (links may be hyperlinked online):

    "Triad City Beat is an independent, for-profit news source serving the cities of the NC Piedmont Triad in Guilford and Forsyth counties, online at triad-city-beat.com.
    CityBeat content is funded by a grant from the NC Local News Lab Fund, online at nclocalnews.org."

  • If you have any questions, please contact Brian Clarey at [email protected]

Join the First Amendment Society, a membership that goes directly to funding TCB‘s newsroom.

We believe that reporting can save the world.

The TCB First Amendment Society recognizes the vital role of a free, unfettered press with a bundling of local experiences designed to build community, and unique engagements with our newsroom that will help you understand, and shape, local journalism’s critical role in uplifting the people in our cities.

All revenue goes directly into the newsroom as reporters’ salaries and freelance commissions.

⚡ Join The Society ⚡