Affordable Housing: Community Keystone

Krista Gates '03, AmeriCorps volunteer

Krista Gates '03, AmeriCorps volunteer. Jim Wallace.

Building a house right on campus is this visible reminder of Duke's commitment to Durham," says Mandy Anderson, a senior and one of the organizers of Blitz Build Duke. Affordable housing is a key component of that commitment--one of the top goals of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership Initiative, created in 1996 to help improve town-gown relations and the quality of life in the twelve neighborhoods nearest the Duke campus.

"Durham has the lowest homeownership rate of all the 100 counties in North Carolina," says Bob Calhoun, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Durham. "It's just a little better than 50 percent. And for a city of this size in the Southeast, it should be much closer to 70 percent.

"What we're trying to do is create home ownership opportunities for working families that have no other access to home ownership." That provides permanence and helps families break out of the cycle of poverty by building equity, "the single greatest source of a household's wealth" in the United States, Calhoun says.

Homeownership also helps stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods, says Sam Miglarese, assistant director of the Office of Community Affairs at Duke. "If you own your own home you have a certain pride in the community. The kids that come out of an environment of homeownership do better in school. Crime is reduced." The university benefits, too, he says: "From the trustees' perspective, stable homeowners create stable neighborhoods, and neighborhood stabilization is an important feature for Duke and Durham and Durham and Duke."

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