37 new homes: Durham Housing Authority, Habitat for Humanity complete affordable housing team-up

Michael Perchick Image
Thursday, August 3, 2023
37 new affordable homes completed in Durham
The Durham Housing Authority and Durham Habitat for Humanity have announced the completion of the Building Blocks Initiative.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Durham Housing Authority and Durham Habitat for Humanity announced the completion of the Building Blocks Initiative, which resulted in 37 new, energy-efficient homes in East Durham.

"I actually got kind of emotional driving over here to this interview because I remember being a young girl in the nineties here, at Few Gardens, and going to our community center, playing on the playground. Now I'm on the executive staff of the Durham Housing Authority, seeing these homes and being able to impact families is truly near and dear to my heart. It's great to see these homes here and families actually being able to take advantage of it," said Durham Housing Authority Communications Manager Aalayah Sanders.

Few Gardens was a public housing complex owned by the Durham Housing Authority, and is now the site of 21 of the homes as part of this project. There are an additional 16 homes located nearby on Laurel Avenue.

The Building Blocks Initiative started in 2019, and is in part the result of a $35 million grant DHA received, with the site geared towards households who make less than 80% of the area-median income.

"There's definitely a need for affordable housing, not only affordable housing, but homeownership opportunities," said Sanders.

According to Triangle MLS, the median home sales price in Durham County in June was $401,000; in June 2018, it was $253,000.

"It is very vital. It gives the families an opportunity to pass something down generationally. It gives them an opportunity to create home memories with their families as well. So we're really excited about what this means for our communities here," Sanders explained.

"A lot of these folks are really the fabric of Durham. They're your educators, they work at Duke in the hospital system. I think it's just really important for them to have a sense of community," added Lindsay Tomlinson, the Director of Development and Advancement for Habitat for Humanity of Durham.

According to Habitat for Humanity, children of low-income homeowners are 11.5% more likely to graduate from high school compared to the children of low-income renters. The non-profit is working on a separate project along North Plum Street, just across the street from the recently completed homes part of the Building Blocks Initiative.

"Another thing that we're experimenting with within our home building is density. As you can see here, we call this skinny plum. This was initially two lots for us and due to some changes within the building codes, we were able to put seven on here," said Tomlinson.

Construction on four of the homes are nearly complete, with crews Thursday working to complete a fifth home on the lot.

"These are all two bedroom homes, but it gives a lot more options for folks who maybe don't need the three to four bedrooms and also allows us to market to different types of families than we traditionally have," Tomlinson explained.