Nonprofit coordinates relocation of Lincoln tenants

Jan. 21, 2013 @ 03:47 PM

The nonprofit that’s spearheading efforts to find homes for families displaced from Lincoln Apartments says four more will leave the complex this week and another six are getting help.

“We’ve been managing this on a week-to-week basis, based on what money comes in,” Housing for New Hope Executive Director Terry Allebaugh said, adding that a donation from Immaculate Conception Church will assist the six who are in the process of locating homes.

Allebaugh’s group took the lead late last year in coordinating relief for displaced Lincoln families, replacing another organization, BlessDurham, that handled the first wave of departures from the soon-to-close apartment complex.

Housing for New Hope has received actual or pledged donations of nearly $50,000, and spent money helping about 40 households, Allebaugh said.

The money has underwritten rents, security deposits and other things low-income former Lincoln residents will need in the course of securing new quarters.

Fundraising efforts, mostly targeting area churches, continue because there at last count were still 16 families still at Lincoln.

BlessDurham helped 31 families in the initial wave, which came after the complex’s former owner asked residents to leave by the end of October.

The group, a coalition of area churches, “put about $8,000 in” to its effort, said its leader, Christian Assembly Church pastor Dub Karriker.

“We partnered churches with people that needed help,” Karriker said. “Some people needed financial help, some people needed application fees. We helped one lady get a job. We helped lot of people get furniture once they moved.”

But its work mostly was with people who decided early on to leave Lincoln. Housing for New Hope is working with people who for various reasons have been slower to depart the 150-unit complex.

In some cases, “people had sufficient income and a good enough rental history and lack of criminal record that locating housing went OK,” Allebaugh said. “What they didn’t have was money for deposits and money for first month’s rents.”

Others have had a more difficult time.

Some had incomes low enough that they required subsidized housing, as “you can’t replicate the level of rent that was being charged at Lincoln,” Allebaugh said.

In such cases, Housing for New Hope has typically sought help from the Durham Housing Authority, which acquired Lincoln from its previous ownership in mid-December.

Still other Lincoln tenants had a “combination of no money saved [and] just barely enough income to afford” what they’d been paying there, mixed in, in some cases, with criminal records that even if they date from long ago can affect a person’s current ability to lease an apartment, Allebaugh said.

Local officials turned to Housing for New Hope for help because the group spearheaded an earlier “rapid re-housing” effort for the homeless, paid for with federal economic stimulus funds.

A combination of governmental and private-sector grants is allowing that work to continue, with its future targets being people living in homeless shelters.

In the Lincoln situation, there’s “been a good response from our community,” Allebaugh said. “People cared and have understood the urgency. It’s a bad situation – we hope ones like that don’t happen again – but it’s good to know we’re in a community where if people hear about needs, they respond.”