Stories of Justice
Early this summer, Durham CAN began organizing at the Durham Housing Authority (DHA) Hoover Road Community led by Organizer, Tinu Diver. Hoover Road is a conventional public housing community located in East Durham. The 54 multi-family townhomes were built in 1968. The units are for low income families and their rent is set at 30% of their income. Hoover Road residents include a mix of young families, multi-generational families, and elderly residents. Some residents have been living in the community for 25 years or more. 98% of heads of household are minorities and 94% make less than 30% AMI (1). According to the housing 1 authority, the average income of its 3,727 public housing tenants is $13,253 (2).
The organizing began with relational meetings between members of Durham CAN, Orange Grove Missionary Baptist Church, and leaders of the Hoover Road Residents Council including, Miss Sherry, a big-hearted mother and grandmother with a sense of humor that can bring a room of people from all walks of life to full-bellied laughter. With Miss Sherry’s leadership, we began a series of steps to organize the rest of the community.
* Door-knocking actions - Throughout July, several door knocking actions at Hoover Road took place to have one-on-one relational meetings with residents and invite them out to a listening session.
* Listening session held in mid July with more than 30 people attending. We heard about the issues that residents of Hoover Road faced including security and safety concerns, lack of activities for kids, and serious, unaddressed maintenance issues. A plan was set to do resident inspection/audits to document all maintenance issues.
* Following the listening session, it came to our attention that the DHA evictions policy was also a serious concern for residents, specifically relating to court fees and the affect it may have on a person’s credit. * Resident inspections occurred in late July. More than 20 units inspected. * On August 22, residents and leaders from Durham CAN held an internal action with Mr. Anthony Scott, CEO, Durham Housing Authority. Mr. Scott was presented with the results of the resident inspections including photos and other documentation. We made several demands related to maintenance issues and the DHA evictions policy.
* What’s next? Mr. Scott, residents of Hoover Road, and leaders from Durham CAN and Orange Grove Baptist Church will hold a public action on September 19 at 6 pm where Mr. Scott will commit to addressing the demands from the internal action.