Tenants still trickling out of Lincoln

Jan. 16, 2013 @ 05:54 PM

Sixteen families remain at the Lincoln Apartments complex, though Durham Housing Authority officials believe two more are poised to move out soon.

The housing authority, which bought Lincoln Dec. 12, has filed court papers that if upheld will require all remaining tenants to move out, Chief Executive Officer Dallas Parks said.

“We have to wait for the system to complete itself,” said Parks, who’s been adamant that DHA can’t afford to operate the 150-unit apartment complex because of the renovations Lincoln’s buildings need.

Parks said the authority is boarding up vacant units.

It’s already closed off access to 52 units, and Wednesday started boarding up 82 more. Five whole buildings have been sealed, with 11 more to come after the remaining tenants depart.

DHA officials canvassed the complex twice, on Dec. 13 and Jan. 2, to warn people they had to leave.

They also “escorted off the site” several people who’d been living at Lincoln illegally, without leases, Parks said.

“As far as we know, we don’t have any unlawful occupants remaining,” Parks said.

One of the two families who are due to move in the next few days is leaving for a unit at another DHA-controlled apartment complex, Edgemont Elms.

Edgemont is an “affordable housing” complex that isn’t part of DHA’s formal public housing program and doesn’t have a waiting list. Tenants there typically rent using subsidies from the Section 8 voucher program.

The authority is still working with the remaining tenants and a local nonprofit, Housing for New Hope, to help people find new homes, Parks said.

Housing for New Hope leader Terry Allebaugh couldn’t be reached for comment.

Lincoln’s closure has been playing since its former owner, the nonprofit Lincoln Hospital Foundation, sent 30-day eviction notices to all tenants at the end of September.

Community organizers and local officials responded by pressing the foundation to give tenants – many of them poor – more time to find other housing. Foundation officials eventually agreed to extend the departure deadline to the end of 2012.

But the $300,000 sale of the property to DHA intervened.

DHA officials had considered buying it in 2011, but turned down the deal then because of expected repair costs. They were also wary of taking on an operation that by all accounts was bleeding money. Tenants have said some people were living there on barter deals rather than on normal lease/rent arrangements.

Parks has said the authority resumed purchase talks with the Lincoln Foundation in October –after foundation officials announced that they intended to close the complex.