Durham Eviction Diversion Program raising funds to provide rental assistance to neighbors in need

DURHAM—The Durham Eviction Diversion Program is launching a campaign today to raise $100,000 in rental assistance for our neighbors in need. The nationwide eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to expire June 30, leaving potentially tens of thousands of people in Durham County vulnerable to housing insecurity and eviction. While the moratorium has provided people with protection during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not absolved them from owing past due rent.

To prevent a potential tidal wave of evictions following the expiration of the moratorium, the Durham Eviction Diversion Program will distribute rental assistance to tenants struggling to pay their rent. The program encourages those who are able to do so to donate to the fund to help our neighbors facing homelessness. The fund will support those who have been denied rental assistance from government-based programs or who have rental debt exceeding that paid by government-based programs. The fund will provide area residents with up to $3,000 in rental assistance.

Already, individuals and civic groups have started to generously contribute to the program’s new rental assistance fund. Most recently, the Rotary Club of Durham contributed $5,000 towards the fund. As Todd Taylor of the Rotary Club has explained, “by assisting tenants with the resources to help pay landlords rent owed, we help relieve the stress, worry, tension, and pressure on tenants and their families. By making sure the landlords get some fair compensation from the tenants, we hope to build on the goodwill between the landlords and tenants. The community at large wins because we avoid putting a family on the street, the landlord can pay property taxes and power bills and the ripple effect builds as those in our community go to lunch and shop locally. The Rotary Club of Durham is glad to be part of this effort and encourages others to join in and continue to make Durham truly a wonderful caring and sharing community.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Durham Eviction Diversion Program has provided free legal services to more than 1,000 families and individuals. The program’s 10 advocates boast a significant success rate at keeping families in their homes, helping them avoid eviction, or enabling people to more easily pursue new housing options.

Durham Eviction Diversion Program clients consistently attest to the importance of free legal help. As explained by a former client, “The Durham Eviction Diversion Program saved me from being evicted…Had it not been for Legal Aid, I would be homeless.” As program director Peter Gilbert has emphasized, “everyone deserves a safe and secure place to call home.”

Those who wish to donate to the fund can do so by visiting Legal Aid of North Carolina’s online donation form at http://bit.ly/donatelanc and selecting “Durham Rental Assistance Fund” from the “Donation Designation” menu. For questions about the fund or about making a donation, please contact Community Resource Coordinator, Dr. Alexis Clark (alexisc@legalaidnc.org).

For those who donate at the $100 level, you’ll receive a Legal Aid of North Carolina t-shirt. Wear your pride for the Eviction Diversion Program on your sleeve. For those who donate at the $250 level, we’ll send you a book by one of the acclaimed authors in our 2021 lecture series. Learn more about housing and the law. For those who donate at the $500 level, you’ll be invited to attend court with one of our housing advocates. Bear witness to the difference that having legal representation makes in the lives of our clients. For those who donate at the $1,000 level, you’ll receive all of the aforementioned items and opportunities as well as an invitation to have coffee with our program director, Peter Gilbert.

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The Durham Eviction Diversion Program is a partnership of Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Durham office, Duke Law’s Civil Justice Clinic and the Durham County Department of Social Services. The program provides free legal services and tenant education to Durham County residents to reduce evictions and increase housing stability. Learn more at durhamevictionsmap.org.

Media contact

Alexis Clark, Community Resource Coordinator, Durham Eviction Diversion Program, 919-597-8820, alexisc@legalaidnc.org