DURHAM, N.C. — The Durham Rent Relief Program, funded by the city of Durham and administered by Legal Aid of North Carolina, is vital for a lot of people in the community. The latest application round is over because so many people have applied and funding is limited.
What You Need To Know
Durham Rent Relief Program is now closed for applications due to funding availability for this latest round
Housing for New Hope helps people in need find affordable housing and maintain it once they have it
The nonprofit organization purchased land to build affordable housing units as the crisis continues due to skyrocketing rental rates
The rental assistance through this program is on a first-come, first-served basis. More than 3,000 people have applied, and renters at imminent risk of eviction will receive top priority.
As the affordable housing crisis continues, Housing for New Hope, a Durham-based nonprofit organization, is helping people in need find affordable housing and maintain it once they have it.
Russell Pierce, who runs the organization, says their clients are facing a “stressful time.” That stress, he adds, is evident by the large volume of requests for rental assistance through the city-backed program.
“The rental assistance program has been really vital for a lot of our clients, because it’s helping them close gaps where they weren’t able to pay,” Pierce said. “They now have arrears, that certainly makes folks anxious in light of the eviction moratorium having been lifted.”
Housing for New Hope, which has been around for 30 years, serves people directly impacted by the city’s affordable housing crisis. It connects clients to new opportunities for housing and works with landlords to find reasonable rental rates so that everyone can have a place to live.
“There are fewer and fewer units. The units are more and more expensive,” Pierce said. “And so we’re running into situations where folks even with a full-time job still can’t afford what rents are now. And that’s a significant change from five or even 10 years ago.”
Pierce says the situation has been made worse by gentrification and displacement. Properties that were rentals for years or even decades are being sold off and turned into private residences or being torn down to allow for new, more expensive properties to be built. However, Pierce’s organization also builds affordable housing.
“We bought all this land. Looks like we can put up 36 units on it,” he said, referencing the nonprofit's newest property in east Durham. “It’s so hard for nonprofits to get a hold of land right now. We just feel really grateful that we’re able to do that. And our next step is to work with the community, work with residents of our current complexes and then also work with some experts on best practices of really what kind of property, what kind of vision could be built here to enrich the community and better serve the clients.”
Pierce also bought an empty house right next to the property. It’s in the early stages, but the plan is to tear that house down to build 18 apartment units. His work is continually evolving, as the needs of the community change.
“We believe everyone has a right to housing, and that affordable housing really does contribute to the building of a just society,” Pierce said. “One of the wonderful, rich things about Durham is its diversity and variety. Many people are fearful that if we aren’t very active in preserving affordable housing and building new affordable housing, people won’t have a place to live here, and we’ll lose a lot of that beautiful richness.”