'We're trying to make the best of it': McDougald Terrace residents deal with the stress of not being at home during the COVID-19 crisis

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- From one crisis to the next, for nearly 3 months, many McDougald Terrace residents in Durham are still staying in hotels during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Residents were originally evacuated from their homes on earlier this year on Jan. 3, after high levels of carbon monoxide forced them to evacuate leading to a public housing crisis.

"There's only so much you can do if you don't have child care," said Brittany Bass, mother of a 7-year-old and a 1-year-old.

Bass said she appreciates the upgrades that have been done to McDougald but that she still doesn't feel safe returning home.

Now her kids are out of daycare and school as she looks for a new place to live.

"I work by the hour and I work in mental health so without having the care I'm forced to take my kids to someone else's house to be babysat," Bass continued.

Mayor Steve Schewel said people have been going back to the public housing complex every week but there are still a significant number in hotels.

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"It continues to be a major concern for our community," he said. "The coronavirus only heightens that concern."

The hope is that 70 more families will be returning next week but it doesn't seem like Bass will be one of them.

"My kids are taking this week as an early spring break," she said. "We're just trying to make the best of it. We're doing better than where we were before."

The Durham Housing Authority said they'll be closing their lobby to the main building on East Main Street on Monday. There will be in-person meetings going on up until April 3rd but it's by appointment only.
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