DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham Mayor Steve Schewel says officials are working to do what they can to help McDougald Terrace residents.
Right now, Schewel says short-term funding is being made available to help residents housed in 12 different hotels across the city after they were displaced due to carbon monoxide issues, but long-term fixes are unclear at this time.
Schewel is asking for the federal government to step up and assist them in what he’s calling a “full-fledged emergency” for residents of the housing complex.
“Our community is treating this like the full-fledged emergency that it is. This is a problem that has been 40 years in the making,” Schewel told reporters Tuesday during a press conference.
Durham Housing Authority director Anthony Scott was not present at Tuesday’s press conference, but Schewel says Scott is very instrumental in getting residents back home and has the full support of the city.
“We support Mr. Scott’s decision that nobody will move back in until this issue is fixed,” Schewel said.
Wendy Jacobs, chairwoman of the Durham County of Commissioners says the city stands in solidarity with McDougald Terrace residents.
“We will do whatever we can to make this right,” Jacobs said. “This is a terrible crisis in our community.”
City officials have developed a plan that involves the $95 million housing bond given to Durham. About $60 million of that money is being used to renovate and redevelop public housing communities across the city.
McDougald Terrace is not a part of the first wave of communities that the $60 million will be used for due to the massive size and cost of the property, Schewel says, but $7 million has been allocated to help residents temporarily, namely those that have been in hotels for nearly two weeks.
Officials made sure to applaud Durham Public Schools for their role in making sure children are still getting to school.
“The school system has done a wonderful job of transporting students to and from school. We appreciate them stepping up,” Schewel said.
Schewel praised the resilience of residents through this hardship.
“Our hearts go out to residents. Living in a hotel, not knowing when you can go home is difficult. We’re amazed and admire the residents of McDougald Terrace. They are not alone,” he said.
Jim Groves, Durham County’s Emergency Management Director says the city is working with various volunteer organizations to make sure families have the necessary food, hygiene and child care items.
Schewel says he does not quite know when residents will be able to return home but the city has been providing daily checks in the form of conference calls, and situation reports that are designed to give residents an update on how far the city has gotten with repairs.
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