‘We don’t know what’s really going to happen’: Tenants protest to save Crystal Towers Apartments

North Carolina

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — James Miller has been living in Crystal Tower Apartments for seven years.

He says each year, things get worse.

His current problems include water damage to floors and rust.

That’s why he and some of his neighbors gathered outside the building holding signs on Tuesday morning.

They want people to invest in and protect their homes.

“They were talking about selling the building, but a lot of residents don’t have anywhere else to go,” said Kathy Holland, a tenant of the apartments.

City leaders acknowledge renovations need to be done. The low-income tenants who live at the downtown building fear an overhaul will lead to a cycle of gentrification.

“We don’t know what’s really going to happen. They have people in wheelchairs, people who are very sick, and they have to worry about this every day,” Holland said.

The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem estimated about $7 million in repairs for the building in 2019. A lack of funding has kept the work on hold.

“That need is spread out of 20 years. Really, it’s $350,000 a year to keep this building in good repair for a generation,” said Dan Rose, member of Housing Justice. “The city just received $55 million for stimulus funding, so locally we do have the money even though this is a federal public housing.”

Mayor Allen Joines met with the people who lined the sidewalk Tuesday morning about the fate and condition of the building.

“I refused to sign off on the sale, until certain conditions were addressed, such as place of units, and things of that nature,” Joines said.

While he does not know what will happen next, he wants people living in the building to know he has their best interest in mind.

“We are concerned about tenants, make sure they are being treated fairly. If the building does have to be sold, they get moved in a way that’s respectful to them. Get all of their cost covered,” Joines said.

The Housing Authority has an engineering staff underway to reevaluate the costs of repairs. The mayor tells FOX8 city leaders have a few places in mind for tenants to go if the building is sold. It may not be enough space for everyone, so there is still work they have to do.

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