Finding Home on the Westside – Colette Haywood’s Story

Colette Haywood’s connection to the Westside is lifelong. Though she grew up in Flint, Michigan she recalls spending summers in Atlanta, as a young girl — taking ballet classes at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA and attending the opening ceremonies for the Morehouse School of Medicine. She met her partner at Morehouse College, where he was a student, and they eventually held their wedding ceremony on the college’s campus.

Returning to Atlanta as an adult, Haywood, an alumna of Morris Brown College, moved to the historic Westside and has lived there for decades. When she initially started the process of trying to purchase a home, she looked at properties in her then neighborhood of English Avenue. The housing market was so competitive, however, she found herself repeatedly being outbid by purchasers with cash offers. Frustrated with the housing market, Haywood decided to apply for Westside Future Fund’s (WFF) Home on the Westside program.

The organization’s signature quality affordable housing program has three service areas: rental housing, homeownership, and property tax releife for legacy residents through the Anti-Displacement Tax Fund. Home on the Westside prioritizes residents with “live, work, and learn” connections to the historic Westside. “The fact that I had priority as a resident because I hit all of the checkmarks, took that factor [being outbid for homes] out of it,” said Haywood.

This summer Haywood became the first resident in WFF’s Home on the Westside program to purchase a home in Vine City. To date, home sales for the organization have been primarily in the English Avenue neighborhood. For Haywood, finding her home in Vine City is meaningful because it’s the community where she’s lived for the last decade, and also has so many personal connections to her and her family. Haywood says she’s grateful for WFF’s approach to helping legacy residents stay in their communities.

“People who are really involved in the neighborhood, all of us have our own individual relationships with the staff at Westside Future Fund,” said Haywood. “It extends beyond just getting you into the program.”

With many of her packing boxes put away, Haywood is now looking forward to decorating and designing her space filled with African art, books, and keepsakes from special moments in her life including the tiara she was given when she was crowned Miss Morris Brown College 2018 – 2019. She’s also looking to continue her professional work and personal life’s mission to be a resource for youth and families in her community.

To learn more about WFF’s Home on the Westside visit here.