DURHAM, N.C. – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has chosen Durham to receive $40 million in funding that will go toward reconstructing and revitalizing affordable housing communities in the city.
The $40 million comes from the Choice Neighborhoods Implementation (CNI) Grant Funding, which is a program that creates affordable opportunities for renters and homeowners through new construction, property repairs and essential housing services, according to a press release.
On Monday afternoon, officials with the Durham Housing Authority, the City of Durham and local and state elected leaders met at 519 East Main to officially announce the grant funding.
“We’re very excited that we can bring this $40 million in and move all of this forward,” Anthony Scott said, the Durham Housing Authority’s CEO.
Scott said the funding will go toward DHA’s downtown development plan, that includes reconstructing and revitalizing five different housing developments in downtown Durham.
Scott said the first component of the grant funding includes tearing down the public housing complexes at 519 East Main Street and Liberty Street, that are right next to each other, and building one new complex at that site. Scott said 70 percent of the grant funding will go toward this project.
“This will be a $186 million dollar development with 555 units, from the lowest of income, all the way up to market-rate housing,” Scott said.
The new complex will include ground floor retail, a new community park and green spaces, and a new community center.
Scott said combining public housing units with market value units creates a balance that will be beneficial to those living there.
“It has a socioeconomic advantage, also a financial advantage,” Scott said. “That’s because you have more revenue coming in and it means these developments can be maintained more properly over time.”
Scott said the second component of the grant funding is the “people component” where 15 percent of the funds from the grant will go toward supporting families at 519 East Main and Liberty Street over the next six years while the new complex is being built.
Scott said the third component of the grant is to make a stronger connection between downtown and the Hayti community.
“This the right step to bridge that gap between the Hayti community that’s on the other side of the freeway and downtown like it once was,” Scott said.
Scott said they will partner with the office of workforce and economic development to help the businesses along the Fayetteville Street corridor and the Hayti community, in general, to help deal with environmental mediation issues as well as loans to those small businesses.
Beverly Leslie lives at 519 East Main and serves as the resident council president.
Leslie spoke at the press conference on Monday about how this grant will benefit all of the residents there.
“This is a very old building, and it really has a multitude of problems,” Leslie said.
Another resident who lives at 519 Main East Street did not want to appear on camera, but showed CBS 17 the living conditions she said she has had to deal with for months, that includes tiles falling in her shower and a sink not working properly.
“I’ve got to worry about black mold in my bathroom, and it’s a big concern because you’ve got older people living here,” she said.
These residents said they are hoping things will improve for families once the new development is built.
“It will be a better and safer environment, and it gives us an opportunity for a better way of life,” Leslie said.
The first phase of the demotion at 519 East Main and Liberty Street apartments will start next month.
Scott said some of the residents at the complexes have already been temporarily relocated and the rest of the residents will transfer to other locations later on.
Scott said it will take at least six years for all phases of the construction of this new complex to be complete unless additional funding is made available.