Timeline unclear for changes at Durham's McDougald Terrace, DHA says

Thursday, February 24, 2022
Timeline unclear for changes at Durham's McDougald Terrace, DHA says
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Changes could soon be on the way for families at the beleaguered McDougald Terrace public-housing complex in Durham.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Changes could soon be on the way for families at McDougald Terrace in Durham.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development Development or HUD told the Durham Housing Authority on Wednesday that it had to come up with a plan on how to move forward with the complex.

The plan has to be finalized by the end of the year. The year after, DHA has to help residents look for another place to live.

In a Thursday press conference, DHA said the timeline of when families will need to move and how the agency will handle relocating them is unknown at this time. However, housing authority CEO Anthony Scott said he was upset by inaccurate reports that caused McDougald residents to panic--believing they would have to leave by the end of the year. He said that's not the case.

Scott said DHA signed a "recovery agreement" with HUD last week that outlines three goals the agency must hit over the next two years: increasing occupancy across all properties, improving unit conditions across all properties and repositioning McDougald Terrace, or vacating it as public housing.

"HUD's goal is two years," Scott said. "I don't see how that's really possible. We've expressed that to HUD already but we have a process in which we submit a plan, how long it will take."

McDougald residents said they are aware of the issues, but hope leaders understand the human cost of moving people from their homes.

"McDougald does need a lot of work, and like I've stated before, I hope they make the right decision," said Ashley Canady, community advocate for McDougald Terrace. "People out here are human at the end of the day, and people's biggest worry is that they don't know where they're going to go."

It's likely that fixing the complex will be too expensive.

Just before the pandemic, carbon monoxide forced hundreds out of their homes and into hotels for months.

Crime continues to plague the public-housing complex as well.

Canady is hopeful DHA is very clear on their plans to move people.

"You're giving out a housing choice voucher," she said. "We already have residents of Durham who have vouchers and can't find anywhere to stay in Durham," she said. "A lot of people are going to be skeptical when you have people coming from McDougald Terrace. So I hope decision-makers are making wise decisions; we know it's time."