Durham sees 10,000 evictions since mid-2016

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – While the housing market is on the rise in Durham, more than 10,000 evictions have been filed since mid-2016.

It’s a tough reality for low-incomes families just one paycheck away from being forced out of their homes.

When you look around Durham, cranes and construction workers are throughout the city, building new apartments, businesses and shopping locations.

It’s a sign of growth.

But, as more and more people start to call Durham home, others are getting evicted from theirs.

“I’m going to get back on my feet,” said Leigh Ann Shore.

She lived in a two-bedroom apartment with her 6-year-old daughter for just over a year.

“I was very excited,” she recalled. “It was the first time I ever had my own apartment. I’m 45 years old.”

Shore was paying $615 a month for rent, living paycheck to paycheck, making $8 an hour.

Things were fine until May. First, she started having car trouble, then her daughter got sick. Shore was forced to work less hours. In October, she received an eviction letter.

“My daughter even asked me she said, ‘Mommy, are we going to have to sleep on the streets?’ My child asked me that and I said, ‘No,’” she said.

The truth was Shore didn’t know where they would be sleeping that night.

“I can remember sitting on the porch I just prayed, ‘Lord I don’t know what to do,’” she said.

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After that prayer, a homeless shelter returned her call.

“We have a wait list and prioritize based on the need of the family,” said Ryan Fehrman, the executive director at Families Moving Forward.

He says the shelter is often full.

“I got 10 pounds of flour for a five-pound bag and that’s the situation were in at the shelter,” he said.

Shore now lives at the shelter.

“The hardest thing I ever had to do,” she said. “I came with two suitcases and three backpacks and our clothes and that was it.”

She shares this room with her daughter, and a bathroom and kitchen with other families.

From July 2016 to June 2017, court records CBS North Carolina obtained show more than 10,000 evictions filed in Durham County, almost 900 in June alone.

CBS North Carolina sat down with Reginald Johnson, the director of Community Development in Durham.

He says there is an affordable housing issue.

“I can say that it is happening all over the triangle, indeed all over the state and I can say all across the nation,” said Johnson.

Johnson says low-income is part of the problem as well but the city has programs in place to help.

“We work to foster an environment where we can use tools such as low income housing tax credits where persons can have housing opportunities based upon paying no more than 30 percent of their income in rent or housing costs,” he said.

City officials say it’s a balancing act, working to keeping housing affordable while promoting growth in the city.

More people are moving to Durham making higher salaries, causing the housing market to rise.

“Ten years ago the discussion we were having is we’ve got some blighted neighborhoods that housing stock is deteriorating because nobody wants to invest in these neighborhoods,” said Karen Lado, the assistant director of Durham’s Department of Community Development. “So now fast forward to 2017 now we have, oh my gosh, we have neighborhoods that have historically been where low income people would live and now they can’t live here anymore.”

Discussions are happening now about making some units in new apartment complexes downtown available for low-income families like Shore’s.

That’s good news for her. She hopes to have enough money by Christmas to move out of the shelter.

“Right now, it’s just saving money you’re right I don’t have rent I don’t have a power bill I don’t have a water bill so right now it’s just saving every dime that I have,” she said.

If nothing else, the single mother has one special face that’s motivating her.

“I’m all that she has,” Shore says referring to her daughter. “I have to keep pushing I have to keep moving because she relies on me.”

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