As a community representative in various organizations, I strive to support our local neighborhoods in their efforts to address issues of concern.
Two resolutions were passed at the June meeting of the Inter-Neighborhood Council of Durham. The first was in support of the Golden Belt Historic District boundaries recommended by the consultants who recognized Golden Belt as the last intact mill village of the early 20th century in Durham. The second resolution was in support of bike boulevards to improve bike and pedestrian infrastructure within our city.
I support both resolutions, and I want to take a moment and explain why a historic district, though traditionally unfavorable to a community like mine, is necessary in using an equity lens in supporting a nationally recognized boundary of Golden Belt.
Golden Belt is a mixed socioeconomically, racially and by ability. There has been a marked increase of owner-occupied housing since 2007 when I moved to Golden Belt from the dissected Edgemont community, rich with history and issues.
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However, Golden Belt is a community that has battled to remain intact against NCDOT’s Alston Avenue road-widening plans and the Durham Rescue Mission neglected properties and compound plans since 2008. We submitted the petition for designation in the fall of 2010 and have waited six years to get to this point.
This is a small neighborhood of resident homeowners, renters and businesses, which the Hope VI project called for and now that we are all here in a diverse mixed-income, mixed-race, mixed-accessibility, walkable community we need the city’s support to keep the momentum of equity going.
Though we as a neighborhood have supported the Durham Rescue Mission’s Center for Hope plans and Ernie and Gail Mills of the Durham Rescue Mission says they support the community in the request, we find they are in opposition with the community again. There is some shortsightedness in the impact their plans have on current resident and homeowners.
There are four single, black female homeowners whom Habitat for Humanity assisted in acquiring home-ownership on the east side of Alston Avenue. They have strong reservations about the request of the Rob Tart of Durham Rescue Mission to exclude sections of the mill village on the east side of Alston Avenue, recognizing each of them would be adversely impacted by the exclusion.
I have had the esteemed pleasure to work with my neighbors in this community to address the inequity and power dynamics which tries to remove the voice of the residents in this community, and I am confident that the city of Durham will not stand by and allow that to happen to the four homeowners on the east side of Alston Avenue or to the other residents of the Golden Belt community or East Durham at large.