11ABC Eyewitness News – ‘Durham CAN’ creates new vision for the city

11 ABC Eyewitness News

‘Durham CAN’ creates new vision for the city

By Joel Brown  Wednesday, June 17, 2015

http://abc11.com/society/durham-can-creates-new-vision-for-the-city-/789483/

DURHAM (WTVD) –State and local leaders are coming together to work on a new vision for Durham.

“Durham C.A.N.” stands for Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods. The group bills itself as a non-partisan network of church groups and community members committed to improving the Bull City.

It was packed inside Durham’s St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church on Tuesday. It was a chance for Durham C.A.N. to look at the mayor, the police chief, the schools superintendent, city leaders and county leaders, all at once, and make their demands about how to make Durham better.

The group expressed fears of long-time residents being displaced by the new housing boom.

“Leadership is about bold decisions,” said Rev. Mark Anthony Middleton. “And, we want our leaders to make a bold decision to have skyscrapers and to have affordable housing.”

Other members spoke angrily about their frustration with drugs and gun violence.

“We have contacted the police over and over again- instead of things getting better, they’ve gotten worse”, said Rev. William Luck.

Things turned decidedly more tense after Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez was asked to speak.

The group wanted to engage Lopez in a public negotiation on its proposal to strengthen DPD’s written consent search policy. The department has long faced accusations of racial profiling.

Chief Lopez insisted there was a never a deal for a public negotiation. He seemed visually frustrated when called to the podium, expressing the group was putting him in an “improper” position.

“When I was invited to this, I was not invited to speak,” Chief Lopez said. “You’re trying to get me to commit to something right now.”

There were more moans and hisses directed at what some in the crowd thought were non-answers from the Chief. But, in the end, Lopez seemed to win the crowd back.

“Take a leap of faith and start trusting this police department and working with us- so that we can make a change,” Lopez told the audience. “The only way the Police Department is gonna be able to make a difference is with a group like this to stand up and say, ‘yes we can!’”

Durham C.A.N is aiming to become a political force in the city. The group announced results from its first round of fundraising efforts: Nearly $200,000 in donations, pledges, and grants.

WRAL – Bull City’s issues address in Durham CAN meeting

WRAL

Bull City’s issues address at Durham CAN meeting

By WRAL  Tuesday, June 16, 2015

http://www.wral.com/bull-city-s-issues-addressed-in-durham-can-meeting/14720755/

DURHAM, N.C. — Affordable housing, crime, education and jobs were among the heavy topics discussed during a Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods meeting at St. Philips Episcopal Church Tuesday night.

“Our concern is that the entire community isn’t able to take advantage of some of those (housing) opportunities and we want to make sure the diversity of income and experience in Durham is able to take advantage of that,” Durham CAN organizer Sharon Hirsch said. “We really are looking for more diverse housing in the downtown corridor.”

The organization invited 28 community leaders to the meeting. What they got was a packed sanctuary that included those able to address the aforementioned issues.

“it’s probably not another city in the state of North Carolina that has dedicated a certain amount of its property tax to affordable housing,” Mayor Bill Bell said. “We’re dedicated one cent, which is about $2.4, $2.5 million dollars.”

Durham Housing Authority board members, Durham city council members, Durham County commissioners and city staff in attendance agreed to take action regarding increasing affordable housing options in the city. Potential efforts include using city-owned buildings for affordable housing, creating job training opportunities for housing related jobs and the city applying for low-income housing tax credits.

Community-police relations and written consent from police officers to conduct searches were also on Durham CAN’s radar.

“Hopefully I can get some insight in what we can do to continue to build trust in this community,” Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said.

Lopez agreed to meet with the organization within 10 days to discuss the police department’s written consent policy.

Hirsch credits the turnout and cooperation to the organization’s track record.

“We’ve been very successful,” she said. “I can’t think of a single action that we’ve taken in the past 10 years that we haven’t won.”

Read more at http://www.wral.com/bull-city-s-issues-addressed-in-durham-can-meeting/14720755/#ZG8w2u4I0V8ywYp5.99