‘Am I gonna be homeless?’ – Durham public housing residents struggling with rent fear eviction

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – For many, the pandemic meant lost jobs and falling behind on rent. Wednesday evening, Durham public housing residents and advocates asked the housing authority to change its policy to help people avoid eviction.

Every morning, Sherry Lawrence wakes up worried.

“I don’t know when I’m going to get a sheriff’s notice on my door because I can’t pay rent,” she said.

She lost her income for months due to the pandemic.

“I worked at (North Carolina) Central in the cafeteria,” she explained. “We just came back in February of this year.”

When the eviction moratorium ends, she fears she won’t be able to stay in her Hoover Road apartment.

“Am I gonna be homeless?” she wondered. “It scares me a lot. It really does.”

Helping people like Lawrence led members of the group Durham CAN to propose changes to the Durham Housing Authority’s eviction process. At a housing authority meeting, members asked for two changes.

“Number one: they prolong the filing of evictions for 90 days. And number two: no eviction filing be made unless the resident and the property manager meet and document they have met with the resident prior to filing,” said Jane Williams with Durham CAN.

Durham Housing Authority CEO Anthony Scott said there will be another work session to discuss rent and eviction issues, and DHA hopes to hire people to work with residents and housing managers.

He also said: “Between now and no earlier than June 30, we will be working with all of our residents who have outstanding rent.”

But Durham CAN and Lawrence want more.

“We are looking for long-term eviction policy reform,” Williams said.

“I just want to make sure that me, and my kids, and my grandkids, is going to have somewhere to live,” Lawrence added.

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