by Chad Nance
Tuesday night at Shiloh Baptist Church, Housing Authority of Winston-Salem CEO Larry Woods stood in front of a group of East Ward citizens and did something he has prided himself on since taking the job in 2006… he told the truth as he sees it.
At that meeting, as reported by Yes Weekly, Mr. Woods told those gathered, “Free housing is not going to be here anymore. You need to get a grip on it. The country’s going broke.”
This afternoon Camel City Dispatch was able to catch up with Mr. Woods and discuss Tuesday’s statements. Asked if he was “fear-mongering” as some in the community have claimed, Mr. Woods responded, “Sometimes when you tell people what’s coming down the pipe they look at you like you’re the boogey-man.” Mr. Woods went on to say that “You can’t keep telling people that there is money for them when there isn’t any. This isn’t 20 or 30 years ago.” Mr. Woods said that what he sees coming from Washington are severe budget cuts.
To that end the Winston-Salem Housing Authority has begun to partner with the Piedmont Regional Council for Workplace Development (PTRC) which is funded by the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Federal Department of Labor. “We are about ready to hold resident’s meetings.” Mr. Woods said. The purpose of these meetings will be to bundle services and educate motivated residents on what they can do to seek, retrain, and further equip themselves for employment. The meetings will instruct residents in how to access and use services ranging from drug rehabilitation, to credit testing, to taking aptitude tests in order to discern what sort of employment path they may be best suited for.
“I’m a real estate specialist, not a career councilmen specialist, so I suggested we partner with the [PTRC]. Managing real estate is what HUD pays me to do. I cannot solve all of your family problems.” Mr. Woods said.
Woods had more hard reality to impart before our conversation was over. “[Current residents] also need to be prepared for the fact that you might have to re-locate. You can’t always wait in your own community for the jobs to come. Those days are gone.”
Dates for the resident’s meetings will be released in the coming weeks. Mr. Woods pointed out that if his statements at Shiloh sounded alarmist to anyone they should consider the alternatives. “Look, If what I said [about the end of heavily subsidized housing] doesn’t happen and you have a job you will be better off. If I am right and you don’t have a job you are going to catch hell.”
You can read our original coverage of Mr. Wood’s statements HERE.