'I want to be stable': 1 year after McDougald Terrace carbon monoxide crisis, residents continue to face problems

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Friday, January 15, 2021
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The COVID-19 pandemic has put other issues on the front burner for people living in McDougald Terrace, like Brittany Bass--who is working hard for herself and her two children.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Brittany Bass is as determined as ever to get out of public housing.

"I have to see the other end of this," this mother of two said. "I have to see the other side of this."

We met Bass a year ago when she and dozens of other residents of the McDougald Terrace complex in Durham came to a meeting of the Durham Housing Authority.

Carbon monoxide forced them out of their homes and into hotels for months, and ABC11 documented their struggles in a half-hour special.

Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has put other issues on the front burner for people in the complex.

Bass went back to McDougald Terrace for a week when her place was ready, but she then got transferred to Oxford Manor.

"I'm working, doing what I have to do for myself right now," she said.

Her savings was depleted with traveling expenses while living in the hotels. She's now trying to save up, transition her 7-year-old back to in-person learning and hold down her job as a mental health substance abuse counselor.

WATCH: McDougald Terrace's persistent problems made worse by pandemic one year after the carbon monoxide crisis

"I want to move and I want to be stable," Bass said. "I'm not too good for the projects. I love everybody, but the gun violence is terrible. I don't got anything going on in my household, but I can't control what goes on outside that."

Ashley Canady was and is still one of the most outspoken advocates for the McDougald Terrace community.

She said the year has been "rough" for people here.

She believes about 60% of the people whose apartments had to be fixed by DHA came back.

"I do have some people who call me and tell me they have gas leaks," she said. "I do see the fire department out here and checking. We try and tell people here to follow all the precautions."

She's encouraging residents to document every problem they have and report it not only to the housing authority but also the fire department.

She's also hopeful a new reporting system from the DHA will be launched soon so residents don't have to be calling the news for their issues.

"I'm working hard to really get out of this. I'm working two jobs," Canady said. "I'm in the fight with them. Like I said, I'll be in the trenches until it's time to go. I've been preparing myself for that, but I'll always support my community."

WATCH: A year after carbon monoxide crisis at McDougald Terrace, 10-year-old boy reflects on how it impacted his year