Local News

Durham Councilwoman Works To Improve Substandard Living Conditions In District

Posted June 19, 2000

— A Durham city councilwoman is hitting the streets to improve the living conditions of her constituents.

The apartments on Alston Avenue are in dire need of repair. Residents say there are holes in the roofs and floors and appliances do not work. Some residents are paying $450 a month. City councilwoman Jackie Wagstaff says it is a ripoff.

"The way I'm looking at it is that we're dealing with Hispanic people," Wagstaff says. "It's like taking advantage of them because a lot of them are afraid to speak up because of a immigration situation, or what not, but that's no reason to have people living in substandard living conditions."

Wagstaff organized a community meeting Tuesday aimed at cleaning up the neighborhood and bringing the apartments up to city code. She wants to file a complaint with the North Carolina Fair Housing Center against Lee Ray Bergman, who owns the apartments.

"If you look at his properties as a whole, they're disproportionately Hispanic, and they are disproportionately in disrepair," says Stella Adam of the North Carolina Fair Housing Center.

Adams says, along with the complaint, the Fair Housing Center plans to file a lawsuit on behalf of the tenants. Ron Carroll, who runs the properties for Bergman, disputes the complaints. He says 85 percent of the apartments are up to city code. The other 15 percent will be worked on over the next couple of weeks.


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