Nonprofit helping Durham residents facing eviction
Posted December 13, 2012
Durham, N.C. — A local nonprofit is helping find affordable housing for residents of a Durham apartment complex that's going out of business.
Residents of Lincoln Apartments on Lakeland Street received notices in September that the 78-unit complex was going out of business because of "unfavorable financial conditions."
Morticia Williams had just moved into the Lincoln Apartments five months prior to getting the letter.
"Basically, every house I went to, (the rent) was either too high, or they weren't finished with it," she said.
With a limited budget, Williams turned to Housing for New Hope, which aims to help prevent and end homelessness. The group helped Williams find another two-bedroom apartment for her and her 7-year-old daughter.
"Now, I'm relieved, because I'm moving into my place, got my keys, got my lease," she said. "I'm situated, and me and her will be in a new place for Christmas."
"The individuals out here were not prepared to move," Housing for New Hope's re-housing coordinator, Cynthia Harris, said.
Harris says that initially, the group had planned to assist 15 families to relocate but that the list has grown to more than 50.
"I'm still getting calls every day with more people wanting to move," she said.
So far, the nonprofit has helped about 12 families, and seven more are scheduled for next week.
"The process has been slow, because it's just taking time to find something that a person can afford to rent and to get the paperwork done to get them approved for it," Harris said.
Harris says that Lincoln residents' rent payments are fairly low and that they can't afford to pay more or put down deposits for new places. Others have lived in the apartments for years and now have to downsize.
Safety's another concern.
"To find affordable, quality housing in a safe area – it's a challenge," Harris said.
Residents initially had 30 days to leave, but with the help of local city and county leaders, they now have until Dec. 31 to find new homes.
"We're trying to do the best that we can with getting them houses," Harris said. "The question is, 'Can we find affordable housing here in Durham, and is there enough?'"
In addition to Housing for New Hope and other organizations, Durham's Department of Social Services has been trying to assist residents.
It's unclear what will happen with the Lincoln Apartments.
Durham spokeswoman Amy Blalock, said the property was acquired Wednesday by Development Ventures Inc., a wholly owned development subsidiary of the Durham Housing Authority.
She did not know what its plans are for the property, and attempts to reach the Durham Housing Authority were unsuccessful Thursday afternoon.
Lincoln Apartments' management company, Southern Real Estate Management & Consultants Inc., had no comment Thursday.
City and county leaders also could not be reached for comment.