DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Protesters rallied in front of the Durham Housing Authority (DHA) on Monday to call for better living conditions in public housing apartments, as well as more transparency from DHA and local officials.
This comes after they said they were not initially informed that a monthly DHA town hall meeting had been rescheduled to another day.
State Rep. Zack Hawkins (District 31) holds the town hall meetings and welcomes DHA’s CEO Anthony Scott every month for question and answer sessions with community members.
The meetings had been happening the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. through Zoom.
Activists said they were not informed that the meeting had been rescheduled for Monday at noon.
“This meeting today is during a time when people are at work and they can’t tune in,” Smith said. “We wanted to make sure to keep our Tuesday night town hall meeting.”
Hawkins told CBS 17 through text that Scott was already scheduled to be a guest during a different meeting hosted by another group, the Coalition of Affordable Housing and Transit, on Monday at noon.
Hawkins said they decided to merge the two meetings.
“We wanted to be efficient and work with one of our DHA town hall series partners,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said a Facebook event was created and several protesters said they did eventually receive an invitation for Monday’s town hall.
However, they decided not to attend.
“The reason why I chose not to, is because they disrespected my Black brothers and sisters who joined the zoom meeting for Tuesday night,” said activist James Chavis.
“The reason they weren’t having Tuesday’s meeting is because they were having this one, but why couldn’t we have had both?” Smith said.
The group of protesters said they are calling for more transparency from DHA and that more be done to address DHA’s backlog of work orders.
As CBS 17 had previously reported, people who live in Durham public housing are having to deal with holes in ceilings, mold on their walls, and appliances that do not always works. Some have been waiting months for repairs to be made.
“What’s the problem? Why do they refuse to fix up these people’s homes?” Smith said. “If we don’t speak up, no one will.”
Scott said that DHA has closed 3,906 work orders since January of this year, but it still has a backlog of 890 work orders.
Scott said during the town hall meeting on Monday that they are working on getting a maintenance repair hotline up and running that will help them better track work orders.
Officials said they are hoping to get the hotline up and running by June.
Hawkins said they are working on planning an evening meeting in the coming weeks to make sure everyone can attend.