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Cornelius News

Charlotte region Habitat for Humanity honors Willie Jones with Lifetime Achievement Award

May 29. Willie Jones, the inaugural executive director of the Smithville Community Coalition, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to affordable housing, community development, and social justice at the Affordable Housing Awareness Month breakfast hosted by Habitat for Humanity of the Charlotte Region.

Jones, a resident of the Antiquity neighborhood, has dedicated his professional life to the redevelopment of formerly segregated, distressed and redlined urban neighborhoods.

Willie Jones

His leadership and vision have been instrumental in the production of over 5,000 units of affordable or mixed-income housing, valued at more than $500 million. Jones’ groundbreaking work earned him induction into the Affordable Housing Finance magazine’s Hall of Fame, recognizing his significant impact on affordable housing and urban development.

Jones has also been a prominent figure in academia and community service. He has spoken at graduate planning schools, served on foundation advisory boards, taught graduate courses in real estate and planning, and consulted with cities on redeveloping distressed, low-income neighborhoods.

After retiring and relocating to Cornelius in 2014, he earned a Master of Theological Studies from Hood Theological Seminary in 2016 and was ordained as a Minister of the Gospel in 2018. Jones has also assisted churches in restructuring their debt to free up resources for active ministries. His efforts have led to the development of 112-unit and 72-unit affordable housing initiatives in Charlotte, further demonstrating his unwavering commitment to community development.

In addition to his remarkable professional achievements, Willie Jones has served as the board chair at the Zachariah Alexander CDC, an affiliate of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church. His leadership and guidance have been pivotal in advancing the organization’s mission and goals. In December 2022, Willie was honored with the Mayor’s Award of Excellence from the Town of
Cornelius by Mayor Woody Washam.

—Dawne Katkitsis

Director of Fundraising & Marketing

Smithville CommUNITY Coalition