Sometimes you’ve just got to roll the dice. It helps, though, to know the odds.
The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem is trying for the third time — that’s the charm, we hear — to win a $30 million Choice Neighborhood federal grant from HUD. It would be used to improve the area around Cleveland Avenue Homes, The Journal’s Wesley Young reported last week. HAWS originally planned to wait another year for its third application, but when conditions on the ground made it look like chances would be better this time around, officials went into action. In its general committee meeting on Sept. 10, the Winston-Salem City Council approved committing $6 million from federal community development and housing funds, along with spending from a 2014 bond, to the project, should HAWS win the grant, the Journal reported.
HAWS officials and its advisors, McCormack Baron Salazar, said they learned on short notice that the current grant cycle would have fewer applicants than the next year’s, which improves the odds of winning. This led to a scramble to get together the application and to mail it on time.
One factor that may increase HAWS’ chances is extending the boundary of the improvement area to include Happy Hill and Skyline Village, as well as Old Salem and the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. As East Ward Council Member Derwin Montgomery pointed out at the meeting, this would allow the millions that have been spent in the Innovation Quarter and other nearby areas to count as community investment in the grant area.
Northeast Ward Council Member Vivian Burke expressed her concern that a revised boundary might drain some of the money from the area it was intended to help. Officials assured her that the focus would remain in the intended area, but Burke insisted that HAWS and city officials put those terms in writing, which they did.
Good for her. We doubt officials would renege on the deal, but it never hurts to keep the receipts.
The Cleveland Avenue Homes neighborhood is crumbling; it’s one of the most blighted parts of the city. A previous $500,000 HUD grant led to a plan to, essentially, raze and replace the area with apartments, townhomes and single-family housing, along with parks and other public spaces. This would open the area for private and commercial development. The implementation grant would be the next step toward turning around prospects in this area, creating a victory upon which to build others.
It sounds like HAWS is playing its cards right. We hope it hits the jackpot.