'Beyond Fences' helps pet owners when nobody else will

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Durham organization is helping pet owners who are facing eviction.

Delandra Roper is a mom who works full time. She paid her rent, but her landlord sold her Durham home. The new owners told her she had 30 days to pack up and leave.

"It's heartbreaking," Roper said, "Because I paid my rent. I paid my rent...I just got pushed out. "

To make her bad situation worse, Roper said her husband was killed in a car crash shortly after they were evicted. Suddenly, she--along with her children and their family dog-- were dependent on only her income.

She and her children went from home to home, looking for a permanent place to live. But having a dog narrowed the options available for housing.

During the time of ABC11's interview, Delandra's dog was staying at her brother's home--something made possible thanks to the non-profit Beyond Fences. Beyond Fences helped the family build a fence in Delandra's brother's backyard.

Beyond Fences focuses on families facing homelessness who are also pet owners. Their work helps keep families together in situations where pets may otherwise have to be turned over to shelters.

Amanda Arrington is with Beyond Fences.

"When you are facing eviction, when you're looking for a new place to live and a pet is part of your family, finding affordable housing--and then pet-friendly affordable housing on top of that--is becoming close to impossible in Durham," Arrington said.

The organization helps families with pet deposits and encourages landlords to accept pets. It covers pet fees at hotels and helps update vaccinations and other medical needs. At any given time, Beyond Fences could be serving up to 500 people.

Lori Hensley with Beyond Fences said affordable housing is a frustrating topic.

"It has been very frustrating to feel, like, maybe this should have been addressed decades ago and it wasn't. Now we're putting out fires," Hensley said.

The City of Durham averages close to 1,000 eviction notices per month according to a 2018 Durham Human Relations report.
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