Local News

Officials 'optimistic' McDougald Terrace residents can head home in 2-3 weeks

Posted January 28, 2020 3:54 p.m. EST
Updated January 28, 2020 4:46 p.m. EST

— After weeks of living out of area hotels because of problems with carbon monoxide at McDougald Terrace, a light finally appeared at what could be the end of the tunnel for residents on Tuesday.

Anthony Scott, chief executive of the Durham Housing Authority, said he was "optimistic" that residents could start returning to their homes in the public housing complex by the second or third week of February.

More than a dozen McDougald Terrace residents have been sent to area hospitals since late November with elevated levels of carbon monoxide.

About 280 of the 300-plus families who live in the complex have been staying at a dozen area hotels since early January so work crews could thoroughly check the gas-powered furnaces, water heaters and ovens in the units.

Sixty-one percent of the 346 McDougald Terrace units checked had at least one faulty appliance – 211 stoves, 38 furnaces and 35 water heaters – that will need to be repaired or replaced to eliminate the carbon monoxide issue.

Contractors began installing new ventilation systems and water heaters on Monday and swapped out gas stoves for electric ones.

But Scott noted that apartments need to be rewired for the electric appliances, and contractors also need to address mold remediation and pest extermination in the apartments, as well as any plumbing issues, before residents can return.

Scott put a "rough estimate" of the repair costs at $4.3 million and said DHA has spent another $1.3 million so far for hotel rooms, food and other expenses for the uprooted residents.

Contractors also have completed inspections of gas appliances at five other DHA complexes for possible carbon monoxide problems – Hoover Road, Oxford Manor, Club Boulevard, Laurel Oaks and Edgemont Elms – and have made changes where needed, Scott said.

Because of what Scott termed the "rather Herculean effort" involved in fixing McDougald Terrace's problems, DHA has stopped filing eviction notices for nonpayment of January rent in all of its complexes. McDougald Terrace residents haven't been charged rent for January and won't be charged for February because of the length of time they have been out of their homes.

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