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Durham Rescue Mission fears historic district will make area unaffordable

The Durham Rescue Mission is hoping to clear up some confusion about its stance on a proposed historic district.

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DURHAM, N.C. — The Durham Rescue Mission is hoping to clear up some confusion about its stance on a proposed historic district.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, the Durham Rescue Mission said there are people who are under the impression that the organization is completely opposed to a proposal for a historic district near East Main Street in downtown Durham. The mission said that is not the case but they do, however, want to make sure that if the Golden Belt is designated as a historic district, the people they serve are not completely pushed out.

They request that as the historic district develops in the Golden Belt, the 20 lots east of Highway 55 that are owned by the Durham Rescue Mission will be exempt from the historic requirements and can offer affordable housing and a community center to offer outreach programs.

The Rescue Mission is fearful that they will not have their request granted and the cost of living in the historic district will increase beyond what the people they serve can afford.

“That’s roughly a 100 percent increase in the cost being in the historic district versus being out, and by its very nature the cost basis means that it’s not affordable,” said Rescue Mission co-founder Ernie Mills. "They're going to be pushed out of the neighborhood because they're not going to be able to afford the skyrocketing rent."

The chairman of the Durham Historic Preservation Commission said it has reviewed and passed on its recommendation that the historic district be created without exemptions for the Durham Rescue Mission.

" Well the recommendation that the historic commission put forward was that those lots be included in teh boundary because the boundary made sense for what was surveyed in the neighborhood," said Joe Fitzsimons with the Durham Historic Preservation Commission. "It also made sense marrying up the local historic district with the national historic district, which has already been established."

The city council plans to hold a public hearing to discuss potential boundaries for the district sometime in early September.


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