Affordable housing a hot topic as Bernie Sanders’ campaign holds town hall in Durham

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – On Friday night, about 300 people packed a “Housing for All” town hall meeting hosted by the Bernie Sanders campaign at the Holton Resource Center in east Durham.

Former Ohio Senator Nina Turner, who is now the co-chair of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, hosted the town hall and talked about possible solutions for affordable housing in America.

This comes as 280 families remain displaced from their McDougald Terrace apartments after high levels of carbon monoxide were found coming from the stoves in more than 200 apartments in McDougald Terrace.

Families at McDougald Terrace will remain displaced at least until Feb. 7 while the Durham Housing Authority works to make needed repairs to those apartments.

Turner took a tour of the McDougald Terrace apartments on Friday.

“It’s a stressful time. A stressful situation,” Turner said. “You have the housing authority who has to do something about the carbon monoxide. People can’t live in that condition, so they have to be placed somewhere while they fix the problem.”

At the town hall on Friday, Turner said that Sanders is proposing putting $180 billion toward public housing over the next 10 years. Turner said the money would come from infrastructure reform and it would go toward building and better maintaining public housing.

“We need to make real investments at the federal level in public housing and treat public housing residents with respect,” Turner said.

City of Durham Mayor Pro Tem Jillian Johnson talked about how there is a need to find more funding for public housing.

“What’s clear is that, in this country, we treat housing as a commodity, not as a human right,” Johnson said. “We need to tax the obscene amount of wealth that’s being hoarded in this country by a small minority of super-wealthy people.”

Debra King lives in McDougald Terrace. She came to the town hall meeting to get answers on any possible solutions to the affordable housing crisis.

“Sometimes I wake up crying about my situation,” King said. “You know you don’t know if the ceiling is going to cave in. You just don’t know what’s going to happen from day to day.”

King said she just hopes that change is on the way soon for the McDougald Terrace community and that the solutions proposed by city leaders and the Sanders will work.

“It would be wonderful if it would work. It would be a great idea because the standard of living here in Durham is just overwhelming.”

The Bernie Sanders campaign will host another town hall on Saturday in Chapel Hill at Extraordinary Ventures at 2:30 p.m.

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