McDougald Terrace families face challenges returning home amid coronavirus

Coronavirus

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Nearly three months after hundreds of families voluntarily evacuated from McDougald Terrace in Durham, hundreds of families are still living in hotels.

As of Friday, Durham Housing Authority CEO Anthony Scott said 118 families were still living in hotels and more than 200 families have returned to McDougald Terrace.

As CBS 17 previously reported, the families evacuated from Durham’s largest public housing complex because of issues with carbon monoxide back in January.

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The families are returning back home in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic and the complex’s resident council says that these families don’t have the resources they need to protect themselves from the virus.

Ashley Canady, president of the resident’s council at McDougald Terrace, said donations are running low at the donation center at 51B.

Durham County recorded 10 new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the total for the county to 102.

“Because of the coronavirus, we’re struggling to stay afloat right now,” Canady said.

She said that they are out of cleaning supplies and that food donations are also down. She said these donations are crucial as families are still stuck in hotels and many are returning home every week.

“We pretty much have green beans and stuff to give them but that’s not enough to supplement them for when they actually come home,” Canady said.

Ashlee Craig, a mother of four, returned to McDougald Terrace a couple of weeks ago and she said there were still issues in her apartment. However, DHA officials said she did return before her apartment was approved.

Craig told CBS 17 she was tired of being moved from hotel to hotel, and she decided to go ahead and come home to her apartment before it was ready. She said she felt safer at home than she did in the hotels.

“In the middle of the coronavirus and everything, I came home with no heat and no hot water,” Craig said.

In addition, Craig said the ceiling is also dipping in her apartment.

“You have to worry about your kids being safe from coronavirus and then you have to worry about being safe from being in an apartment that’s not up to par,” Craig said. “I mean what do you do?”

Scott said that the most immediate health and safety issues were addressed first so that residents could move back home as soon as possible.

Scott said that the housing authorities has a 90-day plan that will address other renovations that need to be made at McDougald Terrace.

As for the coronavirus concerns, Scott said that letters were sent to all of the families in all of the public housing communities in Durham.

He said the letter called for these families to stay home and to abide by the CDC’s guidelines on how to protect yourself from COVID-19.

“Like anywhere else, we have a very vulnerable population within our public housing community so it’s important that we adhere to those guidelines,” Scott said.

Durham Public Schools is delivering meals to families at McDougald Terrace from 11 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.

Scott said they are working on efforts to deliver meals to senior citizens in the public housing communities during the coronavirus outbreak as well.

If you would like to make a donation, you can drop it off at 51B on Ridgeway Street at McDougald Terrace.

Scott said all of the families should be back home by mid-April.

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