DURHAM, N.C. — On Thursday, the city of Durham celebrated the grand opening of some new affordable housing: the Willard Street Apartments. According to DHIC, renters at the new building earn no more than 60% of the area’s median income, or about $41,500 for a family of two.


What You Need To Know

  • The grand opening of the Willard Street Apartments was held Thursday
  • The complex offers affordable housing in downtown Durham
  • Renters at the new building earn no more than 60% of the area’s median income
  • There are plans for more affordable housing downtown including a complex for seniors


ReNée Valentine lives at the Willard Street Apartments and says she went through some tough times after she lost her job last year. Valentine was looking for an affordable place to live and place to call her own.

“This is not the first time I’ve put a key in a door, but it’s the first time I’ve put a key in my door,” Valentine said. “This is a restart and redesign for resilient ReNee.

Valentine landed a new job and moved in to the apartment building in April. “Living here, paying what I pay for rent, I feel secure. It looks like a hotel and it afforded me to do a lot of things that I needed to do for myself,” Valentine said. “I got my glasses. I’m getting my mouth fixed and putting on a little more weight. So everything is a transformation. The apartment. The job.”

It’s a place where Valentine can create art, something she loves to do in her spare time. “I’m 54 years old and now having my own apartment. My own room. Mine. Mine. Mine. And I really feel good,” Valentine said.

It’s also a place where she can grow. “I really can’t speak for other people, but I know what it’s done for me. It’s made me safe and made me secure. I’m free, and I’m happy,” Valentine said.

During Thursday’s grand opening, the apartment’s outdoor plaza was dedicated in honor of Dr. Phail Wynn Jr. It honors his service to the Durham community and the ways he championed affordable housing.

“I hope we will continue this, and I’m so pleased to hear there are going to be other projects close by and more people will have this opportunity to live in nice housing, safe housing,” Peggy Wynn, wife of Dr. Phail Wynn Jr., said.

There are plans for more affordable housing in downtown Durham, including an apartment building for seniors that is set to be built right next door to the Willard Street Apartments.