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Letter: Duke community stands in solidarity with residents of McDougald Terrace

letter to the editor

Dear vested stakeholders in Durham public housing, including the Durham City Council, Durham Housing Authority, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and elected officials,

We, members of the Duke University community, write this letter in solidarity with McDougald Terrace residents and all those affected by substandard housing conditions in Durham Housing Authority (DHA) residences. Our 282 signatures demonstrate our commitment to supporting our neighbors not only in McDougald Terrace but in all substandard housing in Durham.

We are calling on you, our elected and appointed officials, to do your respective duties in addressing this crisis, including but not limited to: declaring a state of emergency, issuing a formal apology to McDougald Terrace residents, and taking steps to ensure this issue is resolved and that those responsible are held accountable. Regardless of which entity is in charge of overseeing DHA, these residents are your constituents. It is unacceptable to allow human beings to live in the conditions many individuals have described, including being plagued by black mold, roach and rat infestations, and sewage leaks. Echoing the sentiments of a Durham resident who spoke at the last Durham City Council meeting, there is no way you would ever live like this.

As a society, we consistently ignore the needs of low-income and minority communities. Racial and economic injustice, decades of disinvestment in public housing, and inaction in response to residents’ concerns have all contributed to the current crisis, which another resident called “our Hurricane Katrina, our Flint, Michigan.” More specifically, the decay and deterioration seen at McDougald Terrace is a direct result of DHA’s failure to take corrective action in response to failing Housing and Urban Development (HUD) inspections in 2018 and 2019. In those years, McDougald Terrace received scores of 21 and 31—well below a passing score of 60 out of 100. If McDougald Terrace residents were not low-income families, predominantly families of color, we do not believe the substandard conditions in Durham public housing complexes would have been allowed to persist.

Housing is a human right and one of the most basic human needs. Not having stable, safe, affordable housing jeopardizes an individual’s ability to lead a prosperous life and contribute to a thriving society. The medical community has clearly established links between substandard heating and stoves and carbon monoxide poisoning, which at its most severe can lead to death. This is just one of numerous environmental health issues caused by unsafe housing: mold triggers asthma, lead and lack of clean water are associated with developmental disability, and nonfunctioning plumbing leads to diarrheal disease.

Federal, state, and local policies have historically failed to support the needs of public housing residents in the U.S., and decades of underfunding have contributed to the current crisis in Durham. We therefore push our elected and appointed officials to support legislation that would improve the city’s dilapidated public housing stock, advocate for more federal funding for public housing, and pass common-sense reforms to public housing policy, including requiring that all public housing units have carbon monoxide detectors installed. DHA officials should also be held accountable for their lack of responsiveness to residents’ concerns and for their inability to appropriately resolve these issues within a reasonable timeframe.

As members of the Duke and Durham community, we commit to standing in solidarity and allyship with McDougald Terrace residents and others advocating for improvements to public housing in Durham. We stand in full support of the demands made by Ashley Canady, President of the McDougald Terrace Resident’s Council, as well as the Council itself. We urge you to take immediate action to resolve this crisis.


Sabrina A. Davis, MPP Candidate 2020

Parker Martin, MPP Candidate 2020

Elise Goldwasser, Sanford Career Services

Bridging Communities

Nick Fiore, MPP 2021

Aadil Khan, MPP Candidate 2021

Allie Jaarsma, MPP Candidate 2020

Priya Shankar, MPP Candidate 2020

Kenneth Dodge, William McDougall Professor of Public Policy

Leah Baldasare, MPP candidate 2020

Allison Sokol, MPP Candidate 2021

Kathy Julian, Staff Assistant, Center for Child & Family Policy, Duke University

Yash Bajaj, MPP Candidate 2020

Hannah Bartlebaugh, MPP Candidate 2020

Suzanne Valdivia, Assistant Director of Internships, Sanford School of Public Policy

Kaki Comer, MPP Candidate 2020

Rosie Rohrs, CCFP Data Technician

Eryn Gorang, MPP Candidate 2021

Elizabeth Jones, MPP Candidate 2021

Jenn Alexander, MPP Candidate 2021

Paelina DeStephano, MPP Candidate 2020

Dan Stevenson, MPP Candidate 2020

Matias Scholl, MPP Candidate 2020

Batool Askari, MIDP Candidate 2021

Laura Schaaf, MPP Candidate 2020

Nicole Forlan, Duke University BSN, RN NP/DNP CANDIDATE 2020/2022

Tranae Felicien, J.D. Candidate 2022

Hanna Heycke, MPP Candidate 2020

Joseph Robbins

Kiah Cheatham, Graduate Student 2023

DUSON Spring 20 Cohort, ABSN 2021

Kamieo Lewis, Duke School of Nursing ABSN Student 2021

HUYEN DO, MIDP Candidate 2021

Laura Stilwell, MD/PhD Candidate

Shydai Dean, ABSN Candidate 2021

Jaelin Honey, Nursing Student 2021

Tikkara Cooper, MPP Candidate 2020

Jasmine Masand, MPP Candidate 2021

Aman Aberra, PhD Candidate

Hannah Loftus, MPP Candidate 2020

Taylor Hughes, MD Candidate 2021

Julian Xie, MD/MPP Candidate 2021

Phifer Nicholson, MD Candidate 2023

Root Causes

Courtney Richman, MD Candidate 2021

Willis Wong, MD Candidate 2022

Alyssa Habermann, Duke University School of Medicine 2021

Keegan Pace, MPP/JD Candidate 2023 Christine Wh, MD Candidate 2021

Vivian Lei, MD Candidate 2021

Safa Kaleem, MD Candidate 2021

Tyler Strobl, MPP Candidate 2021

Alison Conrad, MPP Candidate 2020

Hannah Graunke, MPP Candidate 2021

Rev. Susan A. Rogers, MDiv Duke Primary Care Leadership Track

Best Uchehara, MD Candidate 2023

William Grant, MD Candidate 2020

Alexis Wilsey, MD Candidate 2022

Jerishma Patel, Medical Student 2023

Camille Robinson, MD Candidate 2023

Emma Frantz, MPP-MEM Candidate 2021

Linda Phung, MD Candidate 2021

Kayla Thompson, MD Candidate 2023

Jacob Benton, MD/PhD Candidate 2024

Rosalynd Mosser, MPP Candidate 2021

Liam Miranda, MPP Candidate

David Stewart, MD Candidate 2021

Lyra Olson, MD/PhD candidate 2024

Amanda Del Risco, MD Candidate 2023

Cosette Champion, MD Candidate 2020

Chase Johnson, MPP Candidate 2021

Kaileen Fei, MD Candidate 2023

Norah Karlovich, MD Candidate 2021

Julia Isaacson has, MD candidate 2022

Emily Lazinski, ABSN candidate 2021

Kalkidan Assefa Kebede, MIDP Candidate 2021

Nnamdi Amilo, MD Candidate 2020

Elena Drews, MD Candidate 2021

Tressa Ellett, MD Candidate 2022

Indraneel Dharwadkar, MPP Candidate 2021

Nathaniel Neptune, MD/MBA Candidate 2021

Tamar Chukrun, MD Candidate 2023

Benjamin Lueck, MD Candidate 2023

Lizzy Zhao, MD Candidate 2023

Louis Scola, MPP Candidate 2020

Emma Foley, MPP Candidate 2021

Mona Dai, PhD

Alex Sames, ABSN Student

Surya Ravichandran, MD candidate 2021

Elizabeth Shenaut, Master of Public Policy

Candidate, Master of Environmental

Management Candidate 2020

Mariah Philips, MPP Candidate 2020

Imali Bandara, MPP Candidate 2020

Le’Andre Blakeney, MPP

Norine Chan, MD Candidate 2023

Kathryn Benson, MD Candidate 2023

Amanda Farrell, MD Candidate 2021

Sanford Board Leadership Initiative, MPP Student Organization 2020

Danelle Gamble, MPP Candidate 2020

Marek Zorawski, MD-PhD Candidate 2026

Karen Lin, MD Candidate 2021

Samantha Holcomb, Duke PA Student 2021

Mandee Sheff, MPP Candidate 2021

Mary Leibold, Nursing School Student 2020

Active Mind, Nursing School Club

Thao Nguyen, MD candidate 2021

Reg Ledesma, MPP Candidate 2021

Alyssa Skalitzky, ABSN Student 2021

Mariana Vedoveto, MPP Candidate 2021

Lindsay Olson, MD Candidate 2023

Colleen Muse, MPP Candidate 2020

Jacquie Ayala 2021

Sierra Atwater, MD Candidate 2023

Rachel Holtzman, MPP/JD Dual Degree Candidate 2023

Maria Nagawa, PhD Student 2023

Swati Rayasam, MSc, Global Health and the Environment 2017

Rachel Salzberg, MPP Candidate 2020

Policy in Living Color, Sanford Organization

Jasmine H Salas, ABSN Student 2021

Maya Torain, MD Candidate 2020

Olivia Kretschmer, ABSN Student 2021

Nicole Lococo, MPP Candidate 2021

Narissa Jimenez-Petchumrus, MPP Candidate 2021

Katie Jackson

Deandrea Newsome, MPP Candidate 2020

Ale Villeda, MD Candidate 2021

Marialana Weitzel, Staff Specialist

Erin Lowder, MPP-JD Candidate 2021

Alexis Domeracki, MD Candidate 2023

Maria Gomez-Caraballo, MD Candidate 2021

Tiffany Wei, Undergraduate Student 2020

Hannah Sofia Brown, MD Candidate 2022

Bence Zolyomi, MD Candidate 2023

Maria Ramirez, MPP Candidate 2020

Fred Heller, MD Candidate 2022

Arianna Fischer, MPP Candidate 2021

Elayna Kirsch, MD Candidate 2023

Erika Dennis, Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (ABSN)

Grant J. Abass, M.D. Candidate 2022

Forrest Robinette, MPP Candidate 2020

MPP Student Council, Sanford School of Public Policy

Hannah Silver, MPP Candidate, 2021

Bridget Eklund, Duke Law, JD Candidate 2021

Brendan Johnson, MTS Candidate

Lee Schmidt, MD Candidate 2022

Andrew Trexler, MPP Candidate 2020

Tess Koenigsmark, MPP Candidate 2020

Leigh Davenport, JD Candidate 2022

Breanna McHugh, JD Candidate 2022

Maryam Kanna, JD Candidate 2021

Linda Wang, JD Candidate 2022

Kenyon Wright, MD Candidate 2023

Sarah Dunn, Duke SnaHP, Duke PA Program 2020

Hilary Bernstein, MBA Candidate 2020

Tori Kinamon, MD Candidate 2023

Kira Panzer, MD Candidate 2023

Arakua Welbeck, MD Student 2020

Ganga Moorthy, MD

Margaret Morash, MD, PhD Candidate

Smaraki Dash, MD Candidate 2023

Yair Koenig, MTS Candidate 2021

Florence Zhao, Duke University Undergrad 2022

Jenna Frush, MD Candidate 2021

Michelle Metzler, Duke Physician Assistant Student 2021

Seve Gaskin, MPP Candidate 2022

Mason Seely, MD Candidate 2023

Parrish Ravelli, Community Member Melissa Burney, Physician Assistant Student 2020

Kaitlyn Daly, RN, PhD Graduate Student

Maleah Roth, Duke University Physician Assistant Program, PA-C Candidate 2021

Morine Cebert, PhD Candidate School of Nursing 2020

Ajenai Clemmons, PhD Candidate 2021

Taylor Kovarik, PA Student 2021

Emmy Yang, MD Candidate & Duke Divinity School Student 2020

Ralph Litzinger, Duke University Professor Miriam Cho, Master of Divinity Candidate 2020

Meril Pothen, MPP Candidate 2020

Myaing Myaing Nyunt, Associate Professor of Medicine and Global Health 2008

Jonathan Choi, JD PhD Student 2025

Olivia Lin, MD Candidate, Duke University School of Medicine 2021

Geraldine Dawson, PhD, Professor, Duke University

Liza Moore, Duke Physician Assistant Program 2021

Zoey Petitt

Peter Kussin M.D, Professor of Medicine 1985

Duke Hotspotting Initiative

Zohaib Shaikh, MD Candidate 2021

Alissa Kirby, Physician Assistant Program 2020

Isha Amin, PA-S 2021

Catherine Admay

Rimel Mwamba, Program Coordinator Shashika Bandara, Associate in Research

Duke Global Health Institute

Nimesha Gerlus, MD/PhD Candidate

Rae Jean Proescholdbell

Kate Hauler, PA-S 2020

John Alcorn, MEM Candidate 2021

Amanda Lucier, MD Candidate 2020

Kristen Razner, Physician Assistant Program 2020

Bridget Geyer, MD Candidate 2023

Breanna McHugh, JD Candidate 2022

Lauren Giese, Duke Physician Assistant Student 2021

Jennifer Schmitt, Duke Physician Assistant Program Student Class of 2021

Katherine Monjaras, PA Student 2020

Luke Wachsmuth, MD/PhD Candidate 2025

Lee Foster, MPP Candidate 2021

Leila Adell, Physician Assistant Student 2020

Alexis Lacewell, SPT 2021

Ben Garfinkel, Master's of Health, PA Studies Candidate 2020

Jordan Hildenbrand, MD Candidate 2021

Jennifer Vu, PA Student 2020

Laura Okolie, PA Candidate 2020

Mariah Leroux, PA Candidate 2021

Lorena Ramos, PA Candidate 2020

Carol El-Sayah, PA Candidate 2021

Liridona Osmanaj, MIDP Candidate 2020

Ben Thompson, PA Candidate 2020

Sarah Bouchard, PA Candidate 2021

Eleanor Semmes, MD PhD Candidate 2022

Alexa Henriques, Masters Candidate 2021

Claire Ravenscroft, PhD Candidate 2020

Megan Holmes, Assistant Professor

Lawrence Mumm, Physician

Samuel Hofacker, MD Candidate 2020

Hunter Augeri, PhD Student 2025

Sierra Camille Mims, MD Candidate 2022

Sarah Tait, MD Candidate 2021

Melissa Kandel, Clinical Services Coordinator Occupational Therapy, Duke University Hospital

Meredith Achey, MD Candidate 2020

Duke Med for Social Justice, MD Candidates

Joan Clifford, PhD

Laura Eidem, PA Candidate 2021

Nicky Chung, MD Candidate 2022

Lindsay Schlichte, MD Candidate 2023

Liliana Paredes, Duke University, Professor of the Practice

Joanna Krupp, MD Candidate 2023

Jennifer Tu, MD Candidate 2022

Sanford Women in Policy, MPP/MIDP Student Organization

Heather Lowell, MHS Candidate 2021

Crystal Kennedy, PhD Candidate 2022

Brandon Lê, PhD Student

Alexandria Ayala, MD Candidate

Bridget Kiely, MD Candidate 2023

Kristina Dunworth, MD Candidate 2023

Kelly Goo, MD Candidate 2023

Katha Desai, Medical Student 2023

Addison Caruso, JD Candidate 2021

Valerie Gartner, PhD Candidate

Sarah Cunningham, PhD Candidate 2021

Mary Moya-Mendez, MD Candidate 2023

Maya Evanitsky, UPGG PhD Candidate

Deeksha Malhotra, MD Candidate 2023

Jack Leschisin, MD Candidate 2023

Riana Syed, MD Student 2023

Chinedu Okafor, MD Student 2023

Timothy N. Ochoa, MD Candidate 2023

Taylor Bell, Physician Assistant Student 2020

Kassie Shannon, MD Candidate 2022

Seth Flynn, MD Candidate 2023

Emma Ryan, MD Candidate 2021

Jack Finlay, MD Candidate 2023

Chelsea Shoben, PhD Student 2023

Jessica Hauger, PhD Student 2023

Natalie Wickenheisser, MD Candidate 2023

Shivani Chandrashekaran, MD Candidate 2023

Nancy Tang, Duke PA Program 2020

Sara Grundy, MD Candidate 2022

Monica Bodd, MD Candidate 2022

Rachel Meade , PhD Student 2026

Matthew Calvert, MPP Candidate 2020

Shauntell Luke, MD Candidate 2022

Priya Alagesan, MD Candidate

Nicholas Johnson, MD Candidate 2022

Darby Herkert, MD Candidate 2023

Elana Horwitz, Medical Student 2022

Rachita Singh, MPP Candidate 2020

Christelle Tan, MD Candidate 2020

Vishal Venkatraman, MD Candidate 2023

Alice Yu, MD Candidate 2022

Lindsey A. Chew, MD/PhD Candidate

Peter Cqllejo-Black, MD Candidate 2020

Miranda Morris, Duke MD Candidate 2023

Melanie Eccles, Pathologist Assistant MHS Candidate 2021

John Dudinec


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