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Member Spotlight: City of Durham’s Community Development Department

Denson Apartments - Dedication ceremony with veteran honor guard

In upcoming issues of Housing Matters we’ll be showcasing stories from our members that highlight the impact of funding programs for affordable housing. As you know, many of these programs have been eliminated in President Trump’s proposed budget. This week, we highlight the City of Durham’s Denson Apartments.

In Durham, North Carolina HOME Funds Serve Those Who Serve

It is estimated that 7.3% of Americans have served in the military. Disproportionately, 12% of the adult homeless population is composed of veterans.  In June 2014 the Obama administration issued a Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.  Durham Mayor, William Bell, signed on to the President’s Challenge and Durham’s Community Development Department was tasked with helping meet that goal using the federal and local resources at its disposal. By the end of 2016 the Durham was recognized by HUD and the VA because Durham had met the President’s challenge had successfully ended chronic veteran homelessness. The effort was helped in part by the development of dedicated housing for homeless vets called Denson I & II.

In February 2014 ground was broken for 23 residential units for homeless veterans with disabilities in Durham.  The Department partnered with an experienced non-profit, CASA, a Community Housing Development Organization to develop the project.  The project was named after Alexander B. Denson, a retired federal judge and a Navy veteran who grew tired of seeing veterans trapped in a cycle of poverty in his courtroom.

Denson consists of 23 one-bedroom affordable rental units located in a residential neighborhood, on a bus route that connects veterans to services and shopping. Some units are fully wheelchair accessible with roll-in showers and roll-up sinks.

The total project cost included $1,416,208 in HOME funds, $251,969 in General Funds from the City, $400,000 in HUD Continuum of Care funds, $225,932 in developer equity, and $121,500 in foundation grants were leveraged into the project.  $411,682 in additional HOME funds were provided by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.

The veterans at Denson are linked to HUD Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) rental assistance vouchers.  The HUD-VASH program combines rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the VA.  Veterans receive the supportive services they need in accepting the VASH vouchers, making a return to homelessness much less likely and wrapping individualized care around their housing needs.

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Member Spotlight: City of Durham’s Community Development Department

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