Durham activist, attorney hopes to arm McDougald Terrace residents for legal battle with DHA

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Sunday, January 5, 2020
Durham activist, attorney hopes to arm McDougald Terrace residents for legal battle with DHA
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A Durham activist and attorney is working with residents to make sure they are equipped for a legal battle with the public housing authority.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The morning after some Durham residents were voluntarily evacuated out of their homes at McDougald Terrace, an informative meeting was held Saturday.

The Durham Housing Authority's attempt to move residents to safety did not start off on the best foot; before the meeting was even held, residents complained that some of the hotel rooms they were moved to were infested with bed bugs and roaches.

McDougald Terrace holds more than 300 families. Some residents gathered for an information session attended by community activist and attorney Nana Asante-Smith.

Asante-Smith was invited to the session to see if she could help confused and scared residents.

"This is one of many community efforts going on to try and support, encourage, and empower the residents of McDougald Terrace as they deal with so many of these issues and problems that have not, so far, been as properly addressed as the residents deserve," said Asante-Smith.

She said a thorough investigation by Public Housing officials needs to start immediately.

"Understanding legal rights is not necessarily synonymous with having the most ideal outcome," Asante-Smith said. "But the hope is that that legal information will serve as a basis to begin to navigate the complex legal journey associated with public housing."

Asante-Smith advised that anyone that could potentially be affected by carbon monoxide poisoning gets out of harm's way as soon as possible.

Authorities are working to determine whether carbon monoxide caused the deaths of two children who lived in the residency.