Bell, residents ‘nearing an agreement’ on poverty initiative

07/01/2014 12:00 AM

06/30/2014 11:49 AM

Mayor Bill Bell and Northeast Central Durham residents who feel left out of his Reducing Poverty Initiative are coming closer to a meeting of minds on the project.

“We’re nearing an agreement,” said Steve Hopkins, one of those who met with the mayor late last week, in the aftermath of about a dozen residents walking out on a June 12 planning meeting.

In a memo sent Friday to initiative participants, Bell wrote that he, Hopkins, Ernest Smith and several others who walked out had “agreed to initiative a more extensive community outreach.”

That outreach is going to be organized by Communities In Partnership, a self-help group residents formed after two children sleeping in their Driver Street home were wounded in a 2012 drive-by shooting.

According to Hopkins and Bell, the next step is a July 16 meeting of the co-chairmen Bell appointed to head six task forces with Communities in Partnership, whose members may bring along some more of their neighbors.

That meeting is for the residents to “present our plan to move forward with,” Hopkins said. It’s already well-developed, he said, but declined to offer details.

One of the residents’ objections to the initiative, as currently organized, is that all the task-force leaders are elected members of the City Council, Board of County Commissioners and School Board, with no one from the initiative’s target neighborhood in a leadership position.

The target area is two “block groups” in U.S. Census Tract 10.01, which covers much of the area between Roxboro Street and Miami Boulevard that city planners dubbed “Northeast Central Durham” in 1993.

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