Group, residents push for land to build affordable housing in historic Durham community

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Joanne Brown and Vivian Gunn have called Grant Street, located in the historic Hayti Community in Durham, home their entire lives.

“Everybody knew everybody,” Gunn said.

The two women stood beside each other as they reminisced about a community filled at one point with Black-owned businesses.

“We were pretty much self-sufficient,” Brown said.

A few years back, from guidance from their pastor, they got involved with Durham Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods — also known as Durham CAN.

They began working to preserve the integrity of their neighborhood — a community fragmented by the urban renewal project decades ago.

“My grandmother, she stayed right there on the corner,” Brown said as she glanced over to the now-empty lots.

It’s that exact corner on Grant Street that people in the neighborhood and Durham CAN hope to one day build up and give back.

However, first they want city leaders to give the two lots to Durham Community Land Trustees.

DCLT is an organization that builds, develops, and advocates for affordable housing. Their plan is to build just that for low-income and long-term community members.

Durham CAN also sent a letter to city council

For Brown and Gunn, it means passing down what was taught to them by people who helped build the neighborhood.

“They took pride in what they had. They made sure we had somewhere to stay and that we took pride in it,” Brown said.

Durham CAN said the goal is to make it permanent affordable housing.

The city council met Thursday and heard from members of Durham CAN. It plans to discuss the proposal at its next meeting.

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