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Walltown Neighborhood
Durham, North Carolina
CDFI: Self Help Credit Union
Loan type: Land trust

The Walltown Home Ownership Project has rehabilitated fifteen rundown rental properties in a distressed community near Duke University. Before the project began, rental properties owned by absentee landlords comprised nearly 80% of the housing stock. Self Help worked with local community groups to rehabilitate houses, create home ownership opportunities, and increase stability in the community. In fact, the first three buyers of the renovated homes were long-time Walltown residents.

Mandy McGhee says the houses on her block were the worst in the neighborhood. When she discovered the possibility of owning a home in her community, she jumped at the chance. "They (Self Help) show you the ups and downs of being a homeowner and the steps to being a homeowner. And it's a lot of ups and downs, like I said, but we hung in there. It was days we thought, well, just forget it; it's not worth all this. But, hey, I hung with it, and look, I own a home. I'm proud, very proud to be a home owner in Walltown."

Sandy Newby says of owning a home, "It's a foundation for your family, and gives your family a chance to have some stability and a home base."
Since the rehabilitation and home ownership program began, drug dealers who once haunted the street have moved on.

Martin Eakes, founder and CEO of Self Help, says, "Our belief is that you have to take it block by block. If you have people who own homes, they don't allow that kind of activity (drug dealing) to take place. People basically reclaim the community by having something that they own, and are proud of themselves. You can't do anything more in a community than give it roots, and that's what owning a home really does."

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