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Bull City's issues addressed in Durham CAN meeting

Posted June 16, 2015

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— Affordable housing, crime, education and jobs were among the heavy topics discussed during a Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods meeting at St. Philips Episcopal Church Tuesday night.

"Our concern is that the entire community isn’t able to take advantage of some of those (housing) opportunities and we want to make sure the diversity of income and experience in Durham is able to take advantage of that," Durham CAN organizer Sharon Hirsch said. "We really are looking for more diverse housing in the downtown corridor."

The organization invited 28 community leaders to the meeting. What they got was a packed sanctuary that included those able to address the aforementioned issues.

“it’s probably not another city in the state of North Carolina that has dedicated a certain amount of its property tax to affordable housing,” Mayor Bill Bell said. “We’re dedicated one cent, which is about $2.4, $2.5 million dollars.”

Durham Housing Authority board members, Durham city council members, Durham County commissioners and city staff in attendance agreed to take action regarding increasing affordable housing options in the city. Potential efforts include using city-owned buildings for affordable housing, creating job training opportunities for housing related jobs and the city applying for low-income housing tax credits.

Community-police relations and written consent from police officers to conduct searches were also on Durham CAN’s radar.

“Hopefully I can get some insight in what we can do to continue to build trust in this community,” Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said.

Lopez agreed to meet with the organization within 10 days to discuss the police department’s written consent policy.

Hirsch credits the turnout and cooperation to the organization’s track record.

“We’ve been very successful,” she said. “I can’t think of a single action that we’ve taken in the past 10 years that we haven’t won.”

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