Durham families living in public housing fear eviction as 600 are behind in rent

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The pandemic has hit families who live in Durham public housing complexes hard as more than 600 families are behind on rent.

Shantia Wilds is raising her five children at McDougald Terrace and she said her family is at least six months behind on their rent.

“I haven’t been working,” Wilds said. “I need help, I’m tired of struggling with the kids.”

She has concerns that she could be evicted when the eviction moratorium is lifted.

“When people say you’re about to get put out, I think about it and think ‘Lord have mercy,'” Wilds said.

She said her family owes the Durham Housing Authority thousands of dollars and she is concerned that any day could be the day she is evicted.

Wilds said she is even afraid to go near the property office to check her mail.

“I’m scared to check my mailbox because they’ll be right there and I know I’m way behind,” Wilds said. “So that’s why I wait to go check the mailbox when they close. That’s why I’m waiting now until they close so I can go check it.”

At Wednesday night’s Durham Housing Authority Board of Commissioners meeting, the organization Durham CAN (Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods) is proposing that DHA change their eviction policy.

Jane Williams, a member of Durham CAN’s affordable housing task force team, said they want DHA to start waiting to file an eviction notice until 90 days after their rent is late.

“What we have found is if there is more time, residents can often put the money together to pay their rent,” Williams said.

Williams said if an eviction filing is on someone’s record, it could have long-term negative consequences for these individuals.

“It’s going to be a problem for you with loans, it’s going to be a problem for you with jobs,” Williams said. “Eviction filing is a very serious matter for anyone. We’re asking that they start looking at people who are at high risk and intervene earlier so that they avoid filing an eviction altogether.”

Durham CAN is also asking that landlords be required to have documented communication with these residents before an eviction is filed.

CBS 17 reached out to the Durham Housing Authority to find out if they would consider changing their eviction policy but we are still waiting to hear back.

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