Guide to Joining the Eviction Court-Watching Team

About the Court-Watching Campaign

With the recent strike-down of the federal eviction moratorium, Durham CAN will resume its eviction court-watching campaign this September.

In 2019, there were 9,948 evictions filed in Durham. Eviction is a harmful process that removes people from their homes while charging avoidable, sometimes erroneous fees, and regardless of the court's ruling, eviction filings stay on on a person’s record for 7 years. An eviction record can prevent someone from finding new housing or establishing lines of credit. Tenants, when they are able to make it to court, often do not have lawyers, while landlords do, which causes an imbalance of power in court proceedings. The imbalance of power and the harm caused by eviction disproportionately affects Black women, especially single mothers.

When we Court-Watch, we simply listen or take notes. The simple action of listening in on proceedings provides necessary oversight and accountability over a harmful system; Court-Watchers' presence in court rooms has been shown to favorably alter magistrates’ treatment of tenants, and when the campaign began in August of 2019, eviction filings began to drop.

The three goals of our Court-Watching Campaign are: (1) Research: We want to understand the causes of evictions in Durham, and to hear the stories of those most affected. The experiences of Court Watchers and the stories shared by those facing eviction inspired our actions to reform DHA’s eviction policy. (2) Intervention: We provide oversight and accountability over this part of the justice system to ensure equitable treatment of residents. (3) Leadership development: Court Watching participants will grow comfortable interacting with city and county officials, building relationships with our neighbors, and developing ideas for change. 

Sign Up

Fill out this interest form to learn how to get involved with the Affordable Housing Eviction Team.

 

More Info

Court-Watching "Dos"

+ Dress: business casual, comfortable shoes, mask on!


+ Be polite to all court personnel and security.


+ Be ready to listen and learn; bring a pen and paper to write notes


+ Take notes about what you experience, learn, or have questions about.


+ Be open to interacting with tenants, landlords and attorneys. Good conversations happen in the hallways.


+ Be relational, and consider asking tenants to explain to you why they are there, and to share their story.

+ State clearly when talking to others that you are not an attorney, that you cannot give legal advice, and that you are just there to learn more about what is going on with evictions in Durham.

+ Look for Legal Aid attorneys, Duke Civil Law Clinic attorneys and law students and UNC Civil Legal Assistance attorneys and law students. Let them know you are there court watching for Durham CAN (they are good partners to us).

Court-Watching "Don'ts"

Carry anything that could be considered a weapon.


- Eat or drink in or around the courtroom.


Make offers to help or offer advice.


Stay if you feel unsafe due to COVID or any other reason

Download Our Court-Watching Training Guide Here

 

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Welcoming Hunter

This fall, we welcome Hunter Green to our organizing team. Hunter Greene is a third-year Master of Divinity student at Duke Divinity School. He is pursuing the Certificate in Faith-based Organizing, Advocacy, and Social Transformation. He graduated in 2019 from Milligan College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Humanities. His interests include political theology, economic justice, community organizing, and legal advocacy.

Welcome Hunter with a Relational Meeting: Hunter@durhamcan.org

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Public Comment on the 2022 Qualified Allocation Plan for the Distribution of NC Low Income Housing Tax Credits

Willard Street Apartments - Durham, NC | Apartments.com

Thanks to our Affordable Housing Finance Training this past spring, Durham CAN leaders learned about the different tools available for creating affordable housing. One such tool, The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), is the largest federally-funded affordable housing program; every year, North Carolina receives nearly $30 million dollars to fund the private construction of affordable housing residences. LIHTC are used to cover construction financing gaps that result from lower rent costs in projects like the newly-built Willard St. apartments in downtown. In order to receive Tax Credits, teams of developers, designers, and investors apply through a competitive application process. Applications are then scored across various categories, including site conditions, local housing needs, service to specific underserviced groups, design standards, and more. The scoring guidelines are outlined in the North Carolina Housing Authority's (NCHFA) Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP). Because the competition for Tax Credits is intense, Tax Credit developers design their housing projects to achieve maximum scoring under QAP scoring categories. Thus, the QAP has a major impact on which populations are served, the types of projects that are undertaken and, indirectly, where affordable housing is built. 

To better center the needs of residents in the allocation of this extremely powerful affordable housing resource, Durham CAN gave public comment on the annual QAP draft. Our comments centered around ways to preserve the affordability of LIHTC developments, improve the rights of LIHTC residents, increase maintenance standards and regulations, and create practices that pursue racial equity and justice. It is our hope that by sharing our perspective as a community organization that is deeply rooted in relationships with residents, LIHTC developments will become an empowering platform for upward mobility that begin to reverse historic reproductions of systemic inequity in Durham and across NC. On August 31st, Durham CAN leaders will meet with Scott Farmer-- the executive director of NCHFA-- to discuss these goals and our public comment. View our comments in their entirety at the link above.

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Tech For Equity Final Showcase

Come hear our Duke Tech for Equity intern, Nidhi, share about her project Shelter Report 2021: The State of Housing Choice Vouchers in Durham, North Carolina at an end-of-program showcase.

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Hoover Road Garden

During the installation of the new garden, Hoover Road leader Sherry Lawrence emotionally shared her thoughts and hopes for the garden: When I see [the garden] I cry because I never thought this could happen.” 

A year ago, Durham CAN organized with the Hoover Road community to build the power necessary to create change in their community. Years of neglect and apathy from the Durham Housing Authority imposed a rusty and dangerous playground on the Hoover Road community. Through organizing, Durham CAN and Hoover Road removed the decaying playground and replaced it with a source of life. On May 8th, Durham CAN leaders saw the completion of the community Garden at Hoover Road.

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Club Blvd. Garden

The Affordable Housing Team and Club Blvd. leaders, along with Durham Soil and Water, Durham EAB, and Carrington Middle School Agriculture, came together on June 12th to build the Club Blvd. community garden! We are so excited for this garden to serve as a community gathering space and an opportunity to build leadership while nurturing connections in the greater Durham community. The Club Blvd. Garden also serves as an important reminder that affordable housing is about more than the cost of where people live, and that ensuring access to quality community resources is critical. After a long, hard year, coming together to create a beautiful space became the biggest resource of all.

Thank you to everyone who came out to help with this effort! It's wonderful to already see signs of fresh produce growing (see the tomato below!), and we are optimistic that the garden will serve as a resource for families who experience food apartheid. We're excited to watch this garden create opportunities for exciting learning experiences, serve as a lively place for relationship building, and grow a steady stream of fresh produce for many years to come!

 

           

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Public Comment | Draft NCHFA Homeowners Assistance Fun (HAF) Plan

North Carolina was allocated $273 million from the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), which was established through the American Rescue Plan to prevent mortgage delinquencies, defaults, displacements, and foreclosures for homeowners experiencing financial difficulties after January 21, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Durham CAN offered public comment to the NC Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) to guide the development of the HAF allocation plan, which will open this fall. It is our priority that the HAF addresses disparities faced by BIPOC homeowners, who make up more than half of those currently at risk of losing their homes. Investing HAF in land trust models would  preserve existing affordability, reduce tax burdens, and serve as a tool to prevent displacement. Read our full comment below:

 

Date: June 23, 2021
To: North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NHFA)
Re: Public Comments on Draft NCHFA Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF) Plan


Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods (CAN) is a broad-based, community organization that works to coalesce, train, and organize the communities of Durham across religious, racial, ethnic, class, and neighborhood lines for the public good. Our primary goal is to develop local leadership and organized power to fight for social justice. We strive to hold both public and private power holders accountable for their public responsibilities, as well as to solve deep community social and economic problems. Durham CAN is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation, the nation’s oldest and largest community organizing network.

Over the course of our 22 year history, the creation and preservation of low-income, workforce and affordable housing has remained a top priority for our 30+ member institutions. And through our campaigns calling for the construction of affordable housing, on public land, in close proximity to public transportation, we’ve come to understand NCHFA’s significance with regard to the state’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. According to the Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey data from January 2020 to February 1, 2021, of the 2.6 million homeowners who are currently past-due on their mortgages (as reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association) over half of them are people of color. We hope to see the $273 million HAF allocation deployed across North Carolina in ways that make real the commitments of our public institutions and officials to dismantling systems of racism and white supremacy. We submit the following comments for your review and incorporation in the final draft of the HAF Plan:


(1) Add a map and list for the Urban Counties with Federally Designated Census Tracts in Table 7 (For example, Durham has 18 tracts listed with no further information which makes it difficult to know which communities are targeted in this category).

(2) Designate up to 50% of the total funding for the launch and implementation of a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Homeownership Stabilization Pilot Program based on a shared equity model that would stabilize homeowners by "buying" their home into a land trust. This would also reduce tax liability, secure more permanently affordable housing without having to build it, and serve as an anti-displacement strategy.

Sincerely,
Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods

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Welcoming Nidhi

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Public Comments on City Council Work Session Agenda Item #25 Update on Disposition and Redevelopment of the Property Located at 505 W. Chapel Hill Street

Date: May 6, 2021
To: Durham City Council
Re: Public Comments on City Council Work Session Agenda Item #25 Update on Disposition and Redevelopment of the Property Located at 505 W. Chapel Hill Street

On Monday, May 3rd, we learned about the Fallon Company’s decision to terminate their Purchase Agreement with the City of Durham for 505 W. Chapel Hill Street. Considering the extensive amount of time that we have invested in relating with Mr. Vucannon and the Fallon Company over several years to lend our support and feedback in the development plans for this site -- and ultimately in support of this proposal -- we are disappointed by this recent development and that the Fallon Company did not communicate this update with us directly.

Much has changed in the world and our community since our last comments concerning the modifications to the Master Development Agreement seven months ago. What we hope has not changed are the commitments that the Durham City Council made to Durham CAN and the Durham community in response to our demands to see affordable and low-income housing, built on public land, near public transit, in the downtown core.

The Fallon Company’s assertions and alternatives raise a number of questions such as:

●  Whether the City should obtain a new market analysis to affirm or deny Fallon’s claims that  an almost $ 3 million price reduction is justified due to “market risk”?

●  How would subdivision of the site impact the affordable housing restrictive covenants currently tied to the land in perpetuity?

●  Whether the additional units under Alternative B could remain affordable in perpetuity?

●  What -- if any-- impact would alternatives have on recent zoning changes made to the site or need for further zoning changes?

As we celebrate with neighbors moving into Willard Street Apartments while supporting those who struggle to find housing within their income range, we’re reminded of how important it is for Winn and the City to continue on the path of delivering the units of affordable housing as promised. We look forward to this afternoon’s presentation and learning how we move forward on this path together.

Sincerely,
Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods

Link to PDF

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Lots in Hayti Community Slated to Become Permanently Affordable

Date: April 22, 2020

To: Durham City Council

Re: Public Comments on Work Session Agenda Item  #6 Conveyance of 702, 704 and 917 Grant Street to Durham Community Land

 

With regard to the City Council agendas for the 4/22 work session and 5/3 City Council meeting, we are writing to support the donation of city land in the Hayti community to Durham Community Land trust.

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Eviction Policy Reform | Proposal to the DHA Board of Commissioners

On January 27th, 2021, the Durham CAN Affordable Housing Team held an action at the monthly Durham Housing Authority (DHA) Board of Commissioners Meeting and spoke during the public comment period about our proposal with the goal of changing the current eviction policies at the DHA. 

We asked that DHA: (1) change the policy on the “time of filing” to extend the court filing date to at least 90 days after the rent is due; and (2) require direct and documented communication between the property manager and resident prior to filing an eviction notice. Increasing the time before filing will allow for recently proposed eviction interventions to take place and will decrease the long-term harm for some residents as well as lower overall evictions which many elected leaders -- including our Mayor -- have repeatedly referred to publicly as “a crisis.”

Since the January Board of Commissioners meeting, the Durham CAN Affordable Housing Team has engaged with DHA leadership and staff on multiple occasions to discuss long-term eviction procedure and policy. As the AH Action team moves to close this phase of our eviction action and develop new strategies, we ask you to JOIN US on Wednesday, March 24th at 5:30 pm to affirm our two procedure/policy recommendations to prevent eviction filings in the long term and highlighting how CAN’s recommendations serve the common self-interests we share with DHA.

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Public Comment | Concerns About The Lack of Public Involvement in Redevelopment Planning for 519 Main Street and Liberty Street Apartments

Date: February 16, 2021

 

To: Housing Authority of City of Durham

The City of Durham, Community Development Department

North Carolina State Historic Preservation Officer

 

Re: Non-concurrence with MOA for the resolution of effects at 519 Main Street (formerly Oldham Towers) and Liberty Street Apartments.

The public notice and documentation standards outlined in Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) are important tools “for citizens to lend their voice in protecting and maintaining historic properties in their communities” -- in fact, the regulations consider the views of the public as essential to the Section 106 process.  What makes a property or building historic is not simply the external validation or labeling of an outside entity, but because of the people who inhabit it, the lives they built there and the community they created within that space.  Considering the import of public engagement in this process, the significant investment of public funding and public trust in the City and Durham Housing Authority’s (DHA) redevelopment plans, and the failure of the City and DHA to meet the public notice and documentation requirements as outlined in 36 CFR 800, we cannot concur with the MOA.

During the November 19, 2020 discussion with staff from the City’s Office of Community Development (CDD) and DHA, Durham CAN raised concerns about the lack of public notice as required under 36 CFR 800.2(d); the receipt of the MOA with the first page removed; the lack of documentation provided to the public as required under 36 CFR 800.11, the lack of communication about the MOA with current Liberty Street/Oldham Tower residents, neighbors (such as First Presbyterian Church -- a Durham CAN member institution and neighbor), the City’s Affordable Housing Implementation Committee and other organizations that work on issues of housing or preservation in Durham. We submitted our written comments to CDD.

In our follow up conversation with CDD and DHA staff on Monday, February 15, 2021, we requested that DHA and CDD publicly republish the complete MOA and the documentation listed under 36 CFR 800.11(e) -- which were not included in the City’s public notice -- for the minimum statutory period as a way to cure the public notice deficiencies. They agreed to do so going forward but did not want to restart a public notice process.  As such, we reaffirm our non-concurrence with the MOA.  We appreciate the invitation from CDD and DHA to discuss how to avoid these missteps in the future, and to ensure that redevelopment of public housing located on public land, funded by public subsidy and taxes paid by the public, and administered by public agencies, can better acknowledge and affirm the expectation and demand that communities be the drivers of their destiny.

Sincerely,

Durham CAN Strategy Team and Durham CAN Clergy Caucus Co-Chairs

Link to PDF Version

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Lincoln Community Health Covid Vaccine Clinic Volunteer Sign Up

Please consider volunteering at Lincoln Community Health Clinic COVID Vaccine clinics in the available slots via Sign Up Genius. (new dates and times will be added in the future)

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0e45abae2faafe3-lincoln

Contact:

Dr. Amie Koch

[email protected]

919-451-6720

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Report from 1/27/21 DHA Board Action + Next Steps

"Zoom meeting with DHA is full."
"Couldn't get in."
"I'm in the waiting room."
"Getting a message the meeting is already at capacity!"
"Couldn't get in -- want a full report :)"


- A compilation of text threads from Durham CAN leaders the evening of January 27, 2021, based on true events.

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Statement for the JJ Seniors Bond Proposal 1/28/21

DHA is proposing to issue tax-exempt, multifamily housing revenue bonds worth $9M for financing the construction of JJ Seniors, an elderly, affordable housing project with 20 out of 80 units dedicated to low income.

We have been told by both Mayor Schewel when we were asked to approve the Affordable Housing Bond and by DHA management and members of this board that redevelopment and conversion of public housing units to project based vouchers via RAD is the only option to address the maintenance and renovation needs of DHA’s entire portfolio. We hear that new revenue streams will not only provide extra dollars for maintenance, but also new programming opportunities for residents.

Yet, we are learning that redevelopment via RAD isn’t turning out to be the panacea it was portrayed to be. 1) We were told that units would have 1:1 replacements, but 3 1-bedroom units is not the same thing as 1 3-bedroom unit. 2) Despite promises that residents won’t be permanently displaced, we know people who have been. 3) We are learning of actual costs exceeding budgeted and 4) We are hearing about displacement of residents due to serious structural  issues in the newly renovated units following RAD conversion.

With this being just the beginning of the redevelopment process, I ask you, how do you think it is going and are you, as members of the board, providing enough oversight, the thing you were appointed by the City to do?  

The members of our community served by DHA have few options when it comes to housing. They are more likely to be affected by the harmful process of eviction. But being low income and having fewer options does not mean they deserve less dignity and respect.  As members of the Board, as management of DHA, as taxpayers and community members of this city, we all have a shared responsibility for making sure that promises made are kept and the dignity and respect of each person is upheld.

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Report from January 21st Metro Council + Next Steps

Durham CAN held its first Metro Council Meeting of 2021 via Zooom on Thursday, January 21.  We kicked off the meeting by welcoming our new Strategy Team co-chairs Mr. Kevin McNamee, Mr. Cullen McKenney, and Ms. Ketty Thelemaque. Long-time co-chairs Rev. Dr. Herbert Davis and Rev. Dr. Timothy Conder will serve their final year on the strategy team in 2021, and we cannot thank them enough for their years of hard work and dedication to our work.

We also met this semester's interns: Rachel Hefner, a senior at Meredith College pursuing her Bachelor's of Social Work field study requirements; TJ Bryant, a first year Master of Divinity Student at Duke Divinity School where he is in the Thriving Communities Fellowship; and Erin Light, an Architecture student at the University of Southern California with a passion for spatial justice. We are so excited to start the new year with this dedicated group at our helm.

At the meeting, we also heard updates from the Criminal Justice Reform and Affordable Housing Action Teams. The CJR team will continue its gun violence listening sessions campaign and its Covid-propelled decarceration campaign into 2021. The Affordable Housing Team will have its first major action on January 27th @5:30pm at the Durham Housing Authority (DHA) Board Meeting. Durham CAN members will speak during the public comment period about our proposal to the DHA Board of Commissioners with the goal of changing the current eviction policies at the DHA. We ask that DHA: (1) change the policy on the “time of filing” to extend the court filing date to at least 90 days after the rent is due; and (2) require direct and documented communication between the property manager and resident prior to filing an eviction notice. Increasing the time before filing will allow for recently proposed eviction interventions to take place and will decrease the long-term harm for some residents as well as lower overall evictions which many elected leaders -- including our Mayor -- have repeatedly referred to publicly as “a crisis.”

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Proposal for Changes to DHA Eviction Filing Policies and Practices

Date: Monday, January 18, 2021

 

To: Mr. Daniel C. Hudgins, Chairperson

Durham Housing Authority Board of Commissioners

330 E. Main St., Durham, NC 27701

 

Subject: Changes to DHA Eviction Filing Policies and Practices

In 2019, the year prior to the pandemic, there were 867 eviction filings by the Durham Housing Authority (DHA).  Eviction filings have serious consequences for residents.  Even if a judgment is not rendered against the resident, the eviction filing shows up in the individual’s public record for seven years.  This documented history can have a detrimental effect on DHA’s imperative that residents  “move in, move up, and move out” of public housing.  Landlords, employers, and financial institutions search these public records to make decisions about whether to rent, employ, insure, and/or loan money to individuals.  In addition to the complex negative impact on individuals and families, evictions are costly to DHA, taxpayers, and the City of Durham.

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Welcoming Rachel

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Public Comment | Durham Housing Authority 2021 Annual Plan & 5-Year Plan

Date: January 4, 2021

To: Ms. Ashanti Brown, Durham Housing Authority

330 E. Main St., Durham, NC 27701

Subject: WRITTEN COMMENT - FY2021 Annual PHA Plan & 5-Year Plan

In 1998, the US Congress established the public housing agency (PHA) plan to ensure “that the PHA is accountable to the local community for choices it makes.”  Our comments highlight specific recommendations that the Durham Housing Authority (DHA) should consider to increase accountability for the significant investments of tax-payer funds including:

  • Publishing complete information for all  prior and current RAD Conversions on the DHA website.
  • Prioritizing the organization and training of a Resident Advisory Board and Resident Councils as required under federal law.
  • Revising the Durham Housing Authority Downtown Neighborhood Plan (DDNP) to incorporate feedback from long-time homeowners and community members about what the plan gets wrong and is missing.
  • Presenting a financial update at the next DHA Board of Commissioners meeting on how the RAD conversions of Damar Court and Morreene Road have generated funding that is being used to address maintenance issues in other DHA communities.
  • Providing a briefing to the City of Durham’s Affordable Housing Bond Implementation Committee on the return of investment of City funds granted to DHA since 2017.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on these plans.  In the future, please consider how your scheduling of public hearings and public comment impacts religious and cultural holiday observances.  A public review and comment period that falls over during the busiest months for clergy leaders and community members prevents meaningful public participation in the process.

Sincerely,

Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods

Link to PDF Version

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Public Comment | Durham Housing Authority Moving To Work Application

Date: January 5, 2020

Attn: Ms. Ashanti Brown, Durham Housing Authority 

        330 E. Main St., Durham, NC 27701

Subject: MTW WRITTEN COMMENT

The Moving to Work Demonstration program (MTW) is an opportunity for Public Housing Authorities (PHA) to participate in testing new policies aimed at 1) reducing the cost to the PHA of administering rent policies, 2) incentivizing families to work or prepare to work, and 3) increase housing choices for low-income families.  The Durham Housing Authority (DHA) is applying to be a part of Cohort #2: Rent reform with the desire to test a Tiered Rent policy.  Thus, a DHA resident in the treatment group would pay rent within an income tier and that rent would be the same until the next recertification in three years.   DHA has suggested that the cost reductions of not having to recertify every year and the flexibility to use existing PHA and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) funds would allow them to fund 4 new programs: 1) resident support services 2) increase funding for Project Based Vouchers (PBV)  3) increase landlord incentives, and 4) pre-development costs. However, no new funding for such programs will be provided as part of participation in the program.

We have no comment about the merits of MTW or the expansion; however, we believe it is not the right time for the Durham Housing Authority to apply to participate in the program for the following reasons:

  • We fully support an increase in resident services and increasing the number of families DHA is able to assist with more PBVs; but, with no new money being provided to the agencies chosen to participate in the program, we question where this money will come from. A large portion of DHA’s communities have been failing the Physical Assessment Subsystem (PASS) for many years. Resident inspections at Hoover Road in 2019 and the carbon monoxide crisis at McDougald Terrace in 2020 confirm the deteriorating conditions that families in these communities live in. The top priority for DHA should be ensuring that all units across all its properties are in safe and livable conditions.  
  • The tiered rent system as described at the end of the application would create a system in which some families end up paying more than 30% of their rent if their monthly income is less than the midpoint of the tier.  A family with an income of $5,000 places them in tier 3 and a rent of $156 per month or 37% of their monthly income. 
  • As of January 2, 2021 DHA has 13 open positions listed on their website including the person who will manage the Jobs Plus Program that is set to launch on February 15 (according to the 2021 Annual Plan on page 17). We are concerned with DHA’s capacity to take on a new program while negotiating a recovery policy with HUD for the “Troubled Agency” designation as well as managing existing and new programs like ROSS and Jobs Plus.
  • DHA has been designated a “Troubled Agency” under the Public Housing Assessment System due in large part to the PASS scores. According to the Moving to Work Operations Notice ( FR-5994-N-05), “MTW agencies will not be scored in PHAS unless and until HUD develops a MTW-specific system or successor …”.  This would deny the public and its residents the one way of reviewing the overall performance of their local housing authority including the physical assessment of its units, potentially leading to a further erosion of trust within the community.

We thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on the MTW Plan and Application.

Sincerely,

 

Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods

Link to PDF Version

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Welcoming TJ

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Our holiday wish for you: REST | December 2020

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." -Audre Lorde

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Public Comment | $15.4 Million JJ Henderson Bond Approval

Date: October 22, 2020

To: Durham City Council

Re: Public Comments on Work Session Agenda Item #25 Approval of $15.4 Million Tax-Exempt Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds for JJ Henderson Towers 

On Wednesday September 30th, Durham CAN leaders participated in a public hearing advertised on the Durham Housing Authority (DHA’s) website as an opportunity to comment on draft revisions and amendments to DHA plans and policies.  Many were surprised to learn that there were actually three separate hearings being conducted, including one for DHA’s issuance of $15.4 million of tax-exempt bonds to finance the sale of JJ Henderson Towers.  The Certificate and Summary submitted by DHA Board Chair, Mr. Dan Hudgins reflects one public comment.  Considering that over 40 people participated in the hearing, many may not have commented on the bond items because no meeting agenda was published prior to the meeting and while a public notice was published in The Herald, the notice wasn’t published on DHA’s website.

Ms. Ladd’s comment highlights a continued and growing concern about the level of transparency the public should expect from DHA and the level of accountability that we should expect you to hold DHA to.  Ms. Ladd’s comment -- specifically her request for access to the project contracts and evidence of resident input for a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) project -- were not addressed, and the information is not on the DHA website. Instead, Ms. Ladd received a 7-page FAQ about RAD.  However, when CAN made the same information request to the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, within the hour we received a 76-page response that included the project’s tax credit application, bond allocation, sale terms and list of 50 attachments including market studies, term sheets, commitment letters, relocation plans, and contracts.  

DHA, while a separate legal entity from the City of Durham, is the City’s largest provider of low-income housing -- a precious resource not solely because of the scarcity of the units, but because of the lives of the adults and children who call them home.  You appoint the Durham Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners, who hire, fire and review the performance of the DHA CEO.  You approve City funding to DHA.  You approve tax-exempt bonds, and you establish and enforce a housing code to ensure that tax-payers are not subsidizing slum conditions.  In addition to the concerns we raised with DHA in advance of the September 30th Public Hearing, we’ve attached questions regarding this item and additional issues of concern. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely, 

Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods

 

  1. Will there be a new public hearing for this Work Session Item? If so, what information will DHA make publicly accessible prior to the new hearing?  How will the Certificate and Summary accurately reflect the response to the public comment?
  2. During our October 20th meeting with Mr. Anthony Scott and Ms. Ashanti Brown, we were surprised to learn that the City’s Affordable Housing Implementation Committee -- which you instituted to advise the Community Development Department on the implementation of the Affordable Housing Investment Plan -- has not weighed in on the bond funding for the sale of JJ Henderson or Oakley Square.  Considering that a significant portion of City’s Affordable Housing Investment Plan is the redevelopment of DHA properties as outlined in the DHA Downtown & Neighborhood Plan (DDNP), and considering the $ 2.9 million from the City of Durham Dedicated Housing Funds awarded to DHA/DVI as a loan to the new owners of JJ Henderson Tower for development of the project, when will the Committee have an opportunity to advise you on the City’s financial investment in this sale?
  3. In our October 10th public comments on the conveyance of 505 W. Chapel Hill Street to West Chapel Hill Development LLC, we also expressed our deep concern and disappointment at the delays in the disposition of City-owned, vacant lots in the Hayti community and the community engagement program that you committed to create and implement in 2017 to provide meaningful opportunities for the Durham community to contribute input in connection with the redevelopment of the former site of the Fayetteville Street Projects and the surrounding area.  When and how do you plan to move forward on both of these items?
  4. As of July 2020, DHA had over 2,000 work orders for maintenance requests.  Will future funding from the City be contingent on DHA’s response to maintenance requests? Will the City’s Neighborhood Improvement Services Department continue to offer support to DHA to address inspections and repairs as it did during the December 2019 carbon monoxide crisis at McDougald Terrace?
  5. Page 81 of the July DHA Board of Commissioners Packet includes minutes from the June 17 2020 meeting of the Operations Committee.  During that meeting, Mr. Scott outlined a strategy to use City funds that DHA received for public housing communities (like McDougald Terrace) to be counted as repayment towards a $3.5 Million debt stemming from a 2005 Office of Inspector General (OIG) Audit. Does this strategy require City Council’s approval? If the City funds are for repairs that have not been completed, can the City funds be counted toward repayment to OIG?

PDF Version

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Fayette Place Silent Vigil Walk: What's Your ONE WORD?

THANK YOU for coming!

Take a breath, reflect on what you saw & share ONE WORD that describes how you feel about what you just experienced. You can share your 'ONE WORD' with us a few ways:

Visit www.menti.com and use the code 91 94 14 9

Share your ONE WORD with us here

Use the link or scan the QR code below.

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Fayette Place Silent Vigil Walk Reminder Checklist

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