Durham Tech for the construction of affordable housing

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When Shima Earls worked as an early childhood teacher Durham Technical Community Collegeshe and her four children had to live with other people and in a dangerous environment – and were close to living in her car.

When Sarah Polyg studied computer programming at school, she had a hard time making ends meet as a single mother. Her rent was $ 700 a month, and her 4-year-old daughter’s child care was $ 1,000. There was also training at Durham Tech.

“It’s hard for people to go out and do great things if they don’t come from a safe and secure home base,” Polyg said. “I think it’s almost impossible.”

Durham Tech is committed to addressing the housing insecurity of students and community members with plans to build affordable housing near campus. Located at 902 South Briggs Ave, the building will provide 124 affordable housing units with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom residences for students and community members. Leasing applications are scheduled to open in the fall of 2024.

“This Affordable Housing Initiative ensures Durham Tech’s commitment to be part of this community’s solution to tackling housing insecurity and homelessness,” said Durham Tech President J. B. Buxton at a news conference on Tuesday, standing next to Earls and Polyg. “We believe this project will be transformative for our students and the wider community who need affordable housing.”

Provided by Durham Technical Community College

The project is expected to cost $ 29 million, Buxton said. The school company Durham Tech Properties LLC together with Mosaic Development Group and the Banc of America Community Development Company is requesting $ 5.4 million from the city of Durham.

The college is seeking other funding and is holding community meetings for feedback on project details in the coming months, “to make sure this housing community reflects the needs and desires of residents,” Buxton said.

Requirements for residents have not yet been determined. Dates and places of meetings will be posted here. You can subscribe here for an update on the project.

“It’s not about a number of buildings that we can build,” Buxton said. “It’s about basic human needs.”

In 2019, a Temple University survey of more than 700 students at Durham School of Technology found that 50% of students said they felt threatened with housing, and 20% said they felt homeless.

Durham Tech board member Michael Paige applauded the initiative, which “links housing to education and careers to be able to create real and meaningful change.”

“Affordable housing is not the finish line,” Paige said. “Our residents need an affordable way of life, affordable education, skills, training, wages and an economic mobility that changes generations.”

Sarah Polyg, a graduate of Durham College, shares her financial problems while attending school. Liz Bell / EducationNC

Earls now lives in his current residence for six years after graduating in 2016 and accumulating money. She returned to study at Durham Tech to become a nurse.

“Affordable housing is so necessary for students and families,” Earls said. “It’s like taking the burden off your shoulder when you don’t have to worry about where you’re going to live and whether you’re going to go outside next month.”

Polyg now lives in Chatham County and during the pandemic opened her own software development business. Last year, she donated a scholarship to a student at Durham School of Technology.

“I don’t necessarily think the fight is bad,” said Polyg. “I think that’s how we build our heroes. But we build our characters by solving problems, and we show resourcefulness, and our compassion extends to people who are in the same boat. I think that’s how we become strong people. But that’s when it’s achievable. Sometimes the struggle is too hard. Sometimes you have to drop out of school to find a full-time job. And sometimes the struggle gets bitter. And sometimes you have to live with people who have hurt you. And when you’re going through all this, you can’t really focus on your work, your family or your school … I think that affordable housing does not erase the struggle, but makes it achievable. “

Liz Bell

Liz Bell is an early childhood reporter for EducationNC.

Durham Tech for the construction of affordable housing

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