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Job fair aims to improve living conditions for some Durham residents

Posted October 19, 2021 5:58 a.m. EDT
Updated October 19, 2021 6:17 a.m. EDT

— On Tuesday, a job fair in Durham aims to fill dozens of openings critical to improving the quality of life for people who live in public housing.

The Durham Housing Authority has struggled to keep up with maintenance requests, and the pandemic has exacerbated the issue. Organizers are hopeful the job fair will fill openings, ultimately helping provide a timely response to resident needs.

WRAL News has extensively covered the issues in public housing apartments.

Residents have reported bug infestations, leaky roofs and more.

“Overall there’s been shortages for a lot of companies, but for Durham Housing Authority specifically, we have seen quite a few turn around,” said Aalayah Sanders, a spokeswoman for DHA.

Sanders said, in August, DHA had a backlog of over 600 work orders. That number is down to 195.

That is a "major accomplishment for our staff here, and we are very happy and pleased about that,” said Sanders, adding, “For emergency work orders, our goal is to address them within 24 hour, and for non-emergency, it’s within a seven-day span. We’re constantly working to improve and get those work orders down to zero eventually."

DHA has worked to improve issues with the work order tracking system and hired some new employees.

Twenty-one positions are still open out of the 114 positions DHA has budgeted to hire for 2021. The vacancies vary from operations staff to project manager to program coordinator for resident services.

“As an agency, we’re just looking to improve overall the standard of living for our residents and as DHA as a whole," said Sanders. "So filling these positions is especially crucial as we are looking to move in the right direction as an agency."

To recruit and retain employees, DHA has adjusted salaries. On-site staff receive a starting pay of $15 per hour. The salary for maintenance technicians has also increased to $45,000, compared to $36,000 in previous years.

"We're constantly looking for ways to improve our incentives and make it a better working environment for our employees and we also offer great benefits. So anything that we can possibly do to improve as an agency, we’ve definitely either considered it or are implementing it,” said Sanders.

DHA is aiming to fill these positions within the next month. The job fair will take place at the N.C. Works Career Center on 1105 South Briggs Avenue from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. You can also apply online.

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