WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — People in east Winston-Salem are helping transform their own community.

The Housing Authority is in the process of building 81 affordable units, but what’s truly special is the people helping to create them.

People like Antonio Surles grew up not far away on Cleveland Avenue.

“I was making bad decisions and not choosing my family first and my kids first. I was trying to choose the street life,” Surles said.

Those decisions led him to homelessness.

“I just got to a phase where I just didn’t care,” Surles said.

He wanted to make a change but didn’t know how. Then he met Ms. Tee Tee.

“I realized he was homeless. I would see them walking the community up and down the street,” said Morticia “Tee Tee” Parmon, supervisor of Community Engagement for the Housing Authority. “We have someone who is trying and just can’t catch a break. What can we do?”

The Community Engagement Team has only been around for two years, but Parmon says she’s lost track of the number of people they’ve been able to link up with resources.

“I see them and recognize you do have someone with genuine heart who is compassionate and really wants to do something with themselves. Why not help them and give them these opportunities?” Parmon said.

She gave Surles a roof over his head back home on Cleveland Avenue and a paycheck, working construction at the former Brown School site.

“The next day you wake up, and you got your own apartment. You got your own job. It feels blessed,” Surles said.

He’ll work on every phase of the Housing Authority’s long-term project to build 400 units.

“You can wake up and say, ‘I helped build this housing’…not only helped build the housing, but they’ll also have an opportunity to move into the new housing that’s coming as well,” Parmon said.

Surles is helping to build a future for himself and others.

“Ain’t nothing in this world for free. You have to work for everything you’ve got,” Surles said. “This is a new life. It’s a new me.”

The Housing Authority wants to add more local workers to the site. If you’re interested, you can reach out to their office for more details.