Neighbors in Hayti District angered by Durham Housing Authority's affordable housing plan

Thursday, February 17, 2022
Durham neighbors upset by Housing Authority's affordable housing plan
Residents with the group Hayti Reborn are mounting a battle to block joint investors from developing land into 774 affordable housing units in Durham

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Neighbors agree part of the Hayti District needs development.

It has been a wasteland for years: People illegally dump their garbage.

But some neighbors don't agree with who has been chosen to clean this up.

They are upset.

"I was so hurt I didn't know what to do. It was just plain wrong," said Faye Calhoun, she owns property off Fayetteville Street in the historic Hayti district in Durham.

Down the road is a 20-acre site of previously affordable housing known as Fayette Place.

This once-thriving, Black community was weakened after 1960s urban renewal and the construction of the Durham Freeway.

"It is a poster child for a legacy of neglect," she said.

Right now, residents with the group Hayti Reborn are mounting a battle to block joint investors from developing the land into 774 affordable housing units with retail space for a potential grocery store.

Hayti Reborn hoped it would be the one chosen by the Durham Housing Authority to instead develop a mixed-use area with retail space, affordable housing, and a research and development park.

The vision is to create an economic powerhouse while honoring Hayti's legacy.

"This should be a destination, an entryway, a place where we can have an African American history tour because that whole area is African American history," said Calhoun.

Hayti Reborn sent a letter protesting the DHA decision for choosing three investors with no ties to Hayti.

The group claims that DHA seriously violated its own policy for bid proposals, and the process lacked community input and due process.

Bishop Clarence Laney, pastor of Monument of Faith Church in Hayti says his congregation was never contacted by the investors that DHA chose.

"Whoever the developer is ... you have to center the voices who live on the community, otherwise we are repeating history once again," Laney said.

The three investors involved in the redevelopment -- Gilbane Development, F7 International Development, and Greystone Affordable Development -- released this statement:

"In partnership with DHA, our joint team looks forward to creating 1,000 units of affordable housing as well as other non-residential use buildings that will serve the residents of the City of Durham at the Fayette Place and East Main sites.

Our combined expertise and deep mixed-income and community development experience will enable our team to deliver this much-needed quality housing. We look forward to collaborating with community stakeholders and DHA to ensure our development efforts both honor the historic significance of the site while creating future economic opportunities."

DHA said it held several community sessions, and its decision was based on criteria published for everyone to see.

DHA has 10 days to respond to the protest and make a decision on the group's claims.