Durham breaks ground on Willard Street Apartments, promising affordable housing expansion

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Affordable housing can be hard to find in Durham, but a new project hopes to bring some relief.

Tuesday, a group broke ground on a the Willard Street Apartments--a move that signals a major shift in the Bull City.

"The important thing is not just the housing, but the jobs and the vitality that comes along with affordable housing," City Council member Mark-Anthony Middleton said. "So this is just a piece of our plan to address the needs, the societal needs, of housing."

Willard Street Apartments will have more than 80 apartments with a quarter of them priced so a family of four making less than $25,000 a year can afford them. It will also offer more than 5,000 square feet of street-level commercial space and a landscaped plaza overlooking the city skyline.

"So these are extremely affordable units. They're right next to transit, which is so important, and they're right in the heart of Durham! What could be better?" Mayor Steve Schewel said.

Non-profit community developers DHIC, Inc. and Self-Help Ventures Fund joined forces with the City of Durham, Duke University, and the AJ Fletcher Foundation to develop Willard Street Apartments.

Schewel and Middleton said they hope an affordable housing bond that appears on the ballot this fall will pass.

"If we can get that passed, we can do a lot more of these," Schewel said. "We can make a huge difference in the future of our city. We can create an affordable city, instead of submitting to the market forces that make a city unaffordable."
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