The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem, or HAWS, saw improvements in its federal review but officials cautioned improvement was still needed in a board meeting Tuesday.

"The good news is we did better than we did last time," Kevin Cheshire, executive director of HAWS, said to the Board of Commissioners. "The bad news is it's still not good."

The Department of Housing and Urban Development reviews local housing authorities for its Public Housing Assessment System Score Report. HAWS received a 79 in 2022, up from its score of 72 in 2018, Cheshire said.

The review is the most important assessment of local housing authorities, Cheshire said. The review assesses a housing authority's property, financials and operations. 

The physical review and occupancy rates affected the score the most. Cheshire said staff were unable to enter units regularly during the pandemic. This prevented staff from assessing the conditions of units.

Cheshire said HAWS would need to invest significant funds to improve its physical review scores. HAWS will also need to improve the speed of vacancy turnover, he said.

Despite these challenges, the latest score was a step in the right direction, said Board of Commissioners Chairman Andrew Perkins.

Cheshire said the score showed improvement, but there was still a ways to go.

"We need to be at a 90," Cheshire said. "That's when you are a high performer."

Scores below 90 but above 60 are given to standard performers, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. A score below 60 will classify a local housing authority as a substandard performer. A score less than 60 is classified as troubled.

Physical scores of any local housing authority's project determine how frequently there is a physical inspection. Projects with a 90 or more receive reviews every three years.

Projects with a score of at least 80 receive physical inspections every two years, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Less than 80 means a project is subject to annual inspections.

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