2007 Focus Group Findings

Focus Areas & Responses
Housing & Blight
The consensus was that participants liked the historical value of their homes and neighborhoods, accessibility to major highways (I-40, I-85, and N.C. 147), proximity to downtown Durham, and the cultural diversity within their neighborhoods. They disliked criminal activity, boarded and abandoned houses, the lack of property owner accountability, and the sound of gunshots.

Crime & Police
Participants cited key misconceptions related to crime in their neighborhood including remarks like "no one is ever safe in NECD," "you can’t visit the area without being a victim of crime," or "neighbors don’t care what happens to one another." Every participant, however, reported being a victim of crime while residing in the focus area (e.g. property crime or home invasion). Most participants agreed that they felt most unsafe during and directly after hearing gunshots. Prostitution, gunshots and drug related crimes were the most noted criminal activities, but other crimes such as loitering, property crimes, and petty theft were mentioned as areas of concern. Suggestions included increasing police presence during the evening, creating jobs for NECD and District 1 residents, creating an organized neighborhood crime watch, and creating court and jail follow-up programs in the focus area.

Health
The most common health-related issues are: lack of health care, high incidences of diabetes, substance abuse/mental health issues, and AIDS/STDs. Participants suggested that more health and wellness oriented businesses, programs, and services (e.g. health food stores, vegetarian/vegan restaurants, and fitness facilities) are needed in the community.

Education
Participants thought Durham Public Schools offered "limited educational opportunities" for the community. Participants specifically cited the need for additional programs like trade schools, non-traditional training programs, and literacy programs for adults and children. Participants suggested community trade schools focusing on areas like masonry, tailoring, carpentry, auto-mechanics, "green" and environmental technology, lead abatement, barbering, and cosmetology.

Economic Development
Participants would like to bring trade-related jobs that employ local residents and increase community services and amenities. They reflected on unmet demands for auto-mechanics, barbers, brick masons, cleaners, banks, grocery stores, cafés, entertainment venues, and coffee shops.

Durham City & County Services
Participants cited the need for city services including tree limb/debris removal, landscaping empty lots, beautification projects, a multi-purpose community center, sidewalks, street paving, street lights, better signage, and increased police presence. In addition, participants cited the need for county services that including affordable healthcare, drug treatment centers, family services, youth services, halfway houses for women, and a library located in Wellons Village. When groups were asked what community members can do to improve their neighborhood, they said residents can become more involved in activities, create neighborhood watch groups, work together to increase homeownership, and helping to market the area as decent, good, caring neighborhoods.