As part of the “Our Vision, Their Stories” project, the Initiative is featuring the stories of their affordable housing partners across the State. We recognize this important work cannot be done in a vacuum, and we are honored to have worked alongside these champions in the critical mission of preserving affordable housing spaces in our community.
Durham Community Land Trustees
Click to watch the full interview here.
Durham Community Land Trustees in partnership with the Initiative
When residents in Durham’s West End neighborhood noticed the continued trend of increased costs of living in Durham’s urban core, they decided to take action. Thus, the Durham Community Land Trustees was founded in 1987 to ensure that there would always be affordable housing available in the community. This passionate group of individuals grew to eventually own nearly 300 properties available for purchase or rent in the community, providing affordable housing opportunities for population groups who had historically inhabited Durham’s urban core but were at risk of being pushed out.
Our partnership with DCLT began in 1995 when we invited them to apply for membership, along with 22 other housing groups in the Triangle area.
“They brought us to the table as a cohort,” says Selina Mack, Executive Director of DCLT.
Within this cohort, organizations grew and thrived, becoming a true force to be reckoned with in the affordable housing space in the Triangle.
In Durham, roughly 33% of households are cost-burdened. Therefore, we wanted our investment in DCLT to bring opportunity and hope to those people in Durham who otherwise would not have access to affordable housing.
Our partnership focused on three areas with DCLT. We first helped them tackle one of their biggest budget hurdles: generating general operating support.
“General operating support is one of the least likely things to be funded,” Selina shares.
Not only are general operating dollars difficult to find and to fund, they take time and effort away from pursuing their mission of purchasing and providing affordable housing units to the community.
“It allowed the organization to focus on the mission,” Selina says. “They allowed us time and space to pursue other things.”
DCLT also realized the importance of owning their own building right in the heart of the West End community they were seeking to impact. We helped them to finance the purchase of the building that they still reside in today. Since then, their office has become a beacon of hope for people who have been shoved to the margins by rising housing costs and big-name developers.
Lastly, DCLT has taken ownership of an issue that has been critical to our own approach when it comes to sustainability in affordable housing: green building.
“The Initiative was at the forefront of green building,” says Selina.
Green building is not only better for the environment, it can also drive down utility costs for homeowners and renters, ultimately fostering better affordability. DCLT now has focused their efforts heavily on sustainability and strategic planning by building and renovating homes that are energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
DCLT has been able to dramatically reduce their tenants’ utility bills, which increases the affordability of the house overall. They recognize that energy costs are a big component of affordability that aren’t always factored into the affordable housing conversation. And we know they’ll continue to be an influential voice in the affordable housing space in the years to come, leading the way in shared equity and green building.
To learn more about DCLT’s efforts in the community, visit their website.