SW Central Durham Quality of Life Project - Community Building through Home Ownership
"It takes a village to build a village and sometimes it takes a village to build an individual house" [Philip Azar]
To many in the Durham community, the Quality of Life Project and their efforts to create affordable housing options has been a source of hope and inspiration. Philip Azar has worked closely with the Quality of LIfe Project through the Durham Habitat for Humanity. He spoke about the power and importance of the organization on the steps of the Pauli Murray Place house, the first place that the QOL and partners like Habitat came together to begin work in the community.
"They are the conscience, the elders, they don't have assets beyond their good will and commitment to the community, so somebody might say the Quality of Life hasn't built a house in the West End or Lyon Park or SW Central Durham, whatever term ends up being used. That may technically be true but the reality is that they've probably facilitated the development of approximately 100 single family or town homes for home ownership that are affordable."
Besides making sure to provide affordable housing, the Quality of Life Project also monitors what other types of homes will be built in the community. "And it also provides a form of mediation between the developers, the community and also the City of Durham because just as a developer could be paving the road to hell with good intentions, same could be true for a government entity. So the Quality of Life performs a very important role of mediating, of providing a conscience and a community control around what's going on."
Through these two roles, Azar pointed out exactly what makes the Quality of Life Project and how it orchestrates its partnerships so valuable. Its strives to help break down the classism inate in the way home ownership is designed in the United States. "And the mortgage interest deductions that middle class and upper class receive is a huge subsidy that dwarfs the amount of subsidy that is availalble for affordable housing be it for home ownership or for rent. And I think most people when they look at it realize that the benefits of home ownership should not be restricted to the wealthy."
Through this unique approach and collaborative effort, the Quality of Life Project seeks to create a healthier, happier community. "We believe, at least I think most Americans, most people believe that when you are invested in a house, a place, a community, you are inspired to be a better person, a better member of the community, a better citizen."