DURHAM — On the new year’s first business day, Housing for New Hope was still moving people out of Lincoln Apartments while the Durham Housing Authority was serving notices of eviction.
“We’re still in the throes of it,” said Melissa Hartzell, Housing for New Hope’s development director.
Hartzell said her nonprofit moved one household on Wednesday and four others were to move Friday. Housing Authority Director Dallas Parks said DHA was working with Housing for New Hope, but the agency has a contractor ready to start boarding up the run-down complex on Lakeland Street.
“Unfortunately, 13 people with whom we are helping are still trying to find a place to live,” Hartzell said Thursday. “This is a terrible situation.”
The Housing Authority bought the 150-unit complex Dec. 12 from the Lincoln Hospital Foundation. The foundation had planned to close it at the end of October because of “unfavorable financial conditions,” but put closing off until January when more than 50 households couldn’t find new housing by the original deadline.
Tenant organizer Sendolo Diaminah said only a handful of Lincoln residents were “still looking” for new homes by Wednesday. DHA was being lenient with tenants receiving help from Housing for New Hope, he said, but others were being put out.
Parks said the day after DHA closed on the apartments, teams of agency staff and police “knocked on all 150 doors.” Some tenants they found were legal occupants of the apartments but for others there were no records of occupation. All were told to move out by Wednesday, he said.
That day, staff and police officers “knocked on those doors again,” Parks said. The remaining lawful tenants got notices to go. “The ones that were unlawful, we escorted them off the property.”
Eventually, he said, DHA expects to demolish the 1960s-vintage Lincoln Apartments along with its 1953 McDougald Terrace complex as part of a large-scale revitalization project. In October, DHA won a $300,000 federal grant to plan redevelopment in an area from the Durham Freeway south to Elmira Park and from South Roxboro Street east to Bacon Street.
The grant revived the Housing Authority’s interest in Lincoln Apartments. The Lincoln Hospital Foundation had previously approached DHA about buying the property, but Parks said DHA turned them down because of the buildings’ deteriorated condition.