PUBLISHED:January 10, 2020

Listen: Explaining tenants' rights, legal issues in Durham's public housing crisis


Duke Law's Jesse McCoy discusses the legal options for residents of McDougald Terrace after health and safety concerns forced them to evacuate from the public housing community.

Hundreds of tenants have been evacuated from Durham’s largest public housing community, McDougald Terrace, due to habitability problems that include elevated levels of carbon monoxide residents fear may be making them ill and contributed to the recent deaths of two infants. Jesse McCoy, the James Scott Farrin Lecturing Fellow and supervising attorney in Duke Law School’s Civil Justice Clinic, spoke to the tenants about their rights at the request of the community attorney. He discussed these issues in an interview with Duke Law Communications.

Clip 1: McCoy recalls being asked to speak to the tenants at McDougald Terrace about their legal rights.

Clip 2: McCoy remarks on the state and federal habitability regulations, including the recent discovery that some units at McDougald Terrace that did not pass city inspection or Durham Housing Authority inspection.

Clip 3: McCoy speaks to efficacy of a federal process to place carbon monoxide detectors in public housing units.

Clip 4: McCoy recalls reports of carbon monoxide-related issues in public housing across the U.S. and trend of "gentrification in action."

Clip 5: McCoy provides advice for tenants in public housing who may want to take legal action concerning habitability issues.

Duke University maintains an Emergency Relief Fund to respond to emerging crises that affect the Durham community and North Carolina. Duke is committed to assisting displaced McDougald families. Together, the Duke community can make a big impact by making monetary donations to support McDougald families' most basic needs. 100 percent of donations made between January 10 through January 31, 2020 will be disbursed to the United Way’s Durham One Fund to help purchase essentials for families until they can return home.

Click here for information on how you can help.