DHA obtains eviction rights at Lincoln

Feb. 05, 2013 @ 07:00 PM

The Durham Housing Authority has secured court permission to evict any remaining tenants of the Lincoln Apartments complex.

DHA on Monday filed “writs of possession” for 15 units, the last step it needed to take under state law before asking the Durham County Sheriff’s Office to padlock them.

“I don’t anticipate our actually having to padlock anyone,” DHA Chief Executive Officer Dallas Parks said. “If so, there will be very few.”

Parks said DHA officials as of Tuesday thought only about 12 families remained in the 150-unit complex, which the housing authority acquired from a nonprofit foundation last month.

Of those still there, “some are moving imminently, including one or two today,” Parks said. “The number will dwindle quickly. Most of them have found other places to go.”

Lincoln’s closure has been in the cards since September, when its former owner, the Lincoln Hospital Foundation Inc., notified tenants that it was terminating their leases.

Tax filings indicate that the foundation, set up in the 1960s solely to own Lincoln Apartments, had been losing money.

The foundation’s decision to close the complex prompted a scramble by local officials, church groups and housing agencies to find new quarters for the tenants, lest they wind up in the ranks of Durham’s homeless. Lincoln catered to a predominantly low-income clientele.

Pleas from community organizers and tenants eventually prompted foundation leaders to give Lincoln’s residents until the end of the year to leave.

DHA bought the 150-unit property on Dec. 12, and honored the foundation’s end-of-the-year promise. It began the eviction process with court filings on Jan. 4.

It obtained court judgments on Jan. 22 that allowed eviction. The filing of writs of possession means none of the remaining tenants appealed.

Typically, the writ filing precedes by “about a week” any move by the sheriff’s office to padlock units, Parks said.

DHA staffers will work with tenants and a local nonprofit, Housing for New Hope, to find quarters for any families that still haven’t found a new home, he added.

Housing for New Hope Executive Director Terry Allebaugh said his organization has helped 40 families move.

Its point person for Lincoln “thinks there may be still three households there,” Allebaugh said, acknowledging that there might be a discrepancy between the actual tenant count and those seeking help from Housing for New Hope.

The nonprofit is halting its fundraising efforts for Lincoln relocations and will rely if need be on “rapid rehousing” subsidies the City Council approved Monday to combat homelessness, Allebaugh said.

He added that Housing for New Hope stands by its commitment to “help everybody [at Lincoln] as best as we’re able.”