City of Winston-Salem – Choice Neighborhood, Winston-Salem
When the City of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the Winston-Salem Housing Authority embarked on a 6-year project to revitalize and transform an affordable housing community in the Northeast area of the city, they knew it would be crucial to get feedback from existing residents and community members.
From the outset of the project in late 2019/early 2020, when the city was announced as a recipient of a multimillion-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, project leaders committed to involving current residents via a project website and comment forum on coUrbanize, a Citizens Advisory and Steering Committee, and listening and design workshops.
With the help of real estate developer McCormack Baron Salazar and design consultant Urban Strategies, the project team developed a five-phase plan to bring 406 units of new housing to the community for individuals and families with low- to moderate incomes. As plans took shape, project leaders sought comments from the community on what design features they would appreciate as part of their new home, as well as what community benefits would improve the neighborhood as a whole.
Community member Vanessa L. shared her need for a bathroom with grab bars for the shower and toilet areas, as well as a first floor bedroom and laundry room. “I’m 63 and my disability is walking and standing,” she said. “Climbing stairs is a real challenge for me.” Project leaders were able to respond immediately that handicap-accessible apartments including bathroom-area grab bars would be included.
Other residents expressed desire for more green space and outdoor areas, including Grisella Rivera, who commented, “We need more things for the kids out here, to make it better for them to play games and things.” Another community member, Tanequa Hayes, shared, “Gym and pool – It’s necessary! Especially in today’s world…Provides space and peace amongst the community.” Fortunately the project team was able to share that the new community will feature a fitness room, playground for children, and other green spaces for recreational activities.
As the construction kickoff approaches in Fall 2022, the project team has also used the coUrbanize site to notify residents of work opportunities for which they will be given priority. Using the project platform, residents and other community members are able to fill out and submit an Employment Interest Form, ensuring the Choice Neighborhood is a community-built project from start to finish.
With coUrbanize, the City of Winston-Salem and the Winston-Salem Housing Authority were able to:
- Solicit valuable feedback from current residents on desired design features and community benefits
- Inform residents of construction job opportunities and allow them to submit an Employment Interest Form
- Keep residents informed of community events and construction timelines
The Choice Neighborhood Initiative Project is a 6-year journey to revitalize and transform the Northeast Community of Winston-Salem so that a brighter, more vibrant future can be fully realized. Read more about the project here.