DCLT was started in 1987 by a group of neighborhood residents in response to rising housing prices, absentee landlords, and housing disrepair in their community.

They wanted to preserve homes that low-income owners and renters could continue to afford as neighborhood property values increased. They also wanted to restore the community to the vibrancy of years past.

Former staff members pictured here circa 1996 in front of DCLT’s former offices on Morehead Street with Susan Synder(L), former Business Manager, Martin Hahn, former Executive Director, Karl Hammond, and Muna Mujahid, former Community Organizer.

In the early days, DCLT was invited to renovate housing on the 700 South block of Buchanan Blvd with a neighborhood march to “take back the streets.”

The initial house was donated to DCLT. The other four houses were subsequently purchased and renovated by DCLT at different times in an effort to target our impact on the street. Most houses were duplexes that were converted to single-family housing units and sold to 1st time homebuyers using the land trust model.

That was thirty years ago. Throughout the years, a few major catalyst events have contributed to DCLT’s success:

  • 1987 Housing Bond Referendum
  • 1992 City of Durham as a HUD Entitlement City
  • 2005 – Creation of the West End Collaborative. This initiative funded by Duke University and the Quality of Life Initiative, land-banked over 100 parcels of land in Durham West End neighborhood for future development by partners – Self-Help, DCLT, and Habitat for Humanity.

Short documentary produced by filmmaker Mikel Barton and DCLT Community Engagement Committee Board Chair, Sandy Demeree featuring West End residents Juanita McNeil and Mary Elliott.