Letters to the Editor

05/29 What You’re Saying: Patricia E. Harris, and Katy Clune

For neighbors I never met

Re the story “Gentrification in Durham. ‘It’s all about the dollar bill’: A renter’s story” (May 22, 2018)

I really feel for the Abrams. To be tossed out of one’s home is a painful loss, and this is happening with an alarming rapidity in Durham.

For those of us who are fortunate to remain, we become strangers in our own neighborhoods. I have lived in Lakewood for over 16 years, yet two months ago I found myself followed by the police during an evening walk. Apparently, people of color like me are no longer able to travel the interior neighborhood streets without monitoring or harassment. I came to Durham when this city was indeed “durty” and all voices were included. Now I wonder if it’s only the monied who are heard above the moans of the disenfranchised.

At the Scrap Exchange, we hold to our values of inclusivity and service to all by striving to provide places for everyone at the table. We invite all members of the Durham community to help us provide places for a wide range of organizations and businesses. We are seeking support to establish affordable housing so those like the Abrams won’t need to fear that when money talks, they walk.

We must work quickly to protect the diversity of Durham. In the mid-’90s, I was part of developing the city’s 2020 Master Plan. Our accelerated growth has now placed too many who ride the bus, under the bus. It is time for a new plan that puts our community – not the dollar bill – first.

Patricia E. Harris

The writer is chair of the Reuse Arts District Committee and past president of the board of directors of the The Scrap Exchange.

Doing it for our neighbors

It was disheartening to learn of the Abrams’s pending eviction from their Morehead Avenue apartment. As their neighbors, we at the Scrap Exchange are keenly aware of these issues. Several of our employees live in nearby apartments.

Keeping Durham affordable is partly why we embarked on driving the community-oriented growth of Lakewood Shopping Center. In our 27-year history, we moved four times as rents increased. In 2013, we secured our future by purchasing our current location. In 2016, with the help of community investment partners, we purchased the northern end of the shopping center. We are now working to create a Reuse Arts District that serves the local community. This means saying “No” to purchase offers from outside developers and carefully selecting tenants who stay true to our values of inclusivity, affordability, reuse, and creativity.

We invite all members of the Durham community to talk with us about our plans for developing these 12.5 acres in ways that will create affordable housing and green jobs. The Durham Community Food Pantry just signed a lease and will be joining El Centro Hispano, El Futuro (opening this week), Freeman’s Creative, and the new Scrap Thrift. We are recruiting new board members and volunteers with the expertise to help us do this right.

The Abrams’ eviction is upsetting. We reached out to ARTESIA real estate investment to offer our help in better serving Lakewood. As the Abrams’ neighbors, this has galvanized our commitment to our neighborhood.

Katy Clune

The writer is the president of the board of directors of The Scrap Exchange.

Speak up

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