Collins Crossing Apartment Homes' shabby stairs to be updated
By Jenny Surane
| The Daily Tar HeelUpdated:
Since a boy fell through stairs at Collins Crossing in Nov, the town mandated the complex to renovate stairs in 24 of the buildings.
The owners of Collins Crossing Apartment Homes will be required to complete renovations on stairwells in 24 of the complex’s 25 buildings after an investigation revealed hazardous and disintegrating stairwells.
The Carrboro code enforcement office issued the mandate Tuesday, more than a month after a 10-year-old boy
fell through a stairwell at Collins Crossing and was hospitalized.
Carrboro code enforcement supervisor Mike Canova said he performed the initial inspection on Dec. 3 before sending a notice to the owner’s of the complex notifying them about the condition of the stairways.
The owners, which include individual unit owners and Alcurt Carrboro, LLC — the primary owner of the complex — are required to complete all renovations by March 4.
Jarrod Stelly, who is in charge of the renovations at the complex, said he sees no reason why the repairs won’t be completed in time.
“It’s definitely in disrepair and it’s been like that for years and we’re here to fix it,” Stelly said.
He said his company has already begun to take steps toward fixing the stairs.
“After the incident, we became more proactive,” he said. “We did temporary shoring up of all staircases with wood.”
Canova said his department will make weekly inspections to monitor the progress of the repairs to ensure they are done in a timely manner.
Bob Hornik, attorney for the town of Carrboro, said if the owners fail to meet the deadline, the town plans to pursue legal action.
Paying for it all
On Dec. 19, the Old Well Owners Association — the homeowners association for the complex — approved a special assessment fee of $5,406 per unit.
The plan for the fee was drafted by Jeffrey Strole, the vice president of Aspen Square Management
, which manages the property.
The association did not specify what the fee will be used for, but owners believe the money might go toward the renovations.
UNC sociology professor Judith Blau owns two units in Collins Crossing, and she said she worries that the fee might transfer into higher rents for many of the complex’s low income renters.
“Collin’s Crossing is home to many low-income families, and if rents are raised, they’re going to be moving,” Blau said.
Blau said many of the unit owners felt that the new fee was unfair.
“Some of us felt that if they bought the property they should have made the investments for improving the property,” she said.
Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton said he is happy the homeowners are taking steps to repair the stairwells, but he wants them to create a payment plan for owners to pay the fee over a couple of years.
He said he does not want condominium owners to expect low-income residents to shoulder the fee.
Chilton added that he wants to protect residents in the complex from being forced out by the fee.
“If they’re going to play hardball then so am I,” Chilton said.
Contact the city editor at email@example.com.
Published January 8, 2013 in City
full link here
Orange Politics Blog
Blog entry Submitted by BrianR
on Fri, 12/21/2012 - 10:22am.
Over the years you may have read my posts here on OP about equal access to the Internet. It was my volunteering with AmeriCorp and the Town of Chapel Hill that really motivated me. Here is my donation letter I'm sending to friends about my latest effort. Please consider giving this holiday season to buy laptops for kids in Abbey Court
(a.k.a. Collins Crossing).
Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton and Orange Networking are raising $3,000 to provide laptops for fifteen kids at Abbey Court. Can you help us? We want to close the digital divide for fifteen families who currently have no computer at home. Please give whatever you can by clicking here
. If you prefer to donate via check please make it out to ‘Orange Networking’. (Let me know in the comments and I'll send you the address to mail a check to.)
Abbey Court is an apartment complex in Carrboro, North Carolina. It is home to many Carrboro Hispanics. Unfortunately many of the young children who live there don’t have the technical resources we take for granted.The American Psychological Associations
says, "… children from low-SES (Socioeconomic Status) households and communities develop academic skills more slowly compared to children from higher SES groups (Morgan, Farkas, Hillemeier, & Maczuga, 2009)."
Orange Networking is a North Carolina non-profit tax exempt organization I started in 2006. Its primary goal is to bridge the digital divide. To learn more about it's mission and goals please check out our mission page
Please tell others about the Laptops for Abbey Court Kids campaign today. A blog post, Twitter, and Facebook would be great! Attached is a graphic that could help with that.
The holiday is a great time to make a donation to help. All donations to Orange Networking for this fundraising campaign are tax deductible. Donation receipt letters will be sent to all donors. Let's do something to close the gap!
Founder and Chairman of Orange Networkingwww.orangenetworking.org
By Jenny SuraneDaily Tar Heel
For Pat Noelle, Saturday was about searching for answers.
Noelle was one of approximately 50 residents, students and local advocates who marched in protest
of rising rent prices at the Collins Crossing Apartment Homes in Carrboro.
“It’s not fair,” Noelle said. “If the rent goes up, what are they gonna offer us?”
The march for Collins Crossing began at the Carrboro Town Commons and wound through downtown,
finishing on the lawn of Collins Crossing.
Collins Crossing, formerly known as Abbey Court Condominiums, was recently bought by Aspen Square
The apartment complex is considered one of the last affordable housing locations in Carrboro.
Its residents are mainly Burmese and Latino immigrants. The complex has been plagued by crime
problems in the past.
Noelle said she showed up to the march because she wanted to know what was happening to her
She said when the apartment complex first changed hands, some residents received a flier telling
them the monthly rent would go up by $25.
But residents complained their rent has risen by more. For some, rent has risen to as much as $720.
Noelle said she would be forced to leave her apartment if her rent reached $720. She pays $550
in rent each month.
“It’s hard to find apartments in Carrboro,” she said. “If I had to move, I’d have to go to
The Chapel Hill/Carrboro Human Rights Center has received complaints from several Collins
Crossing residents about rising rent prices.
Victor Acosta, the center’s community director, worked with Collins Crossing residents to make sure
they knew about the protest.
And students showed up in solidarity.
UNC senior Paula Gonzales said she marched because, as an immigrant, she knows the difficulties
many immigrants face.
“Sometimes they are treated like criminals when they are just trying to make a living,” she said.
In October, Carrboro held several affordable housing forums for National Community Planning
Local leaders recognized the problems with the supply and affordability of housing in
But protesters worry that the rising rent prices would further gentrify one of the only remaining
affordable housing complexes left in the town.
“There isn’t affordable housing in Carrboro,” said Fredy Perlman. “This protest is self-defense.”
To read the original article visit: http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2012/11/carrboro-residents-pprotest-rising-rent-prices
By Sarah Mansur
CARRBORO -- A group of about 30 people rallied last weekend against rent increases at Collins Crossing, the former Abbey Court Condominiums on Jones Ferry Road. James Wilson said his rent last month was $560, up from $480 when he moved into his two-bedroom apartment 14 months ago.
Tar Heel Companies in Raleigh sold the complex to Massachusetts-based Aspen Square Management in June
Since then, Wilson said his rent has risen $25 every three months, and will
continue to rise until it reaches $720.
“I can’t afford that rent and many other families in Abbey Court cannot,” he
The complex is home to many low-income Latino and ethnic Karen immigrant from
Myanmar (formerly Burma). Judith Blau, a UNC sociology professor and director of
the Carrboro-Chapel Hill Human Rights Center, came to the rally Saturday to show
solidarity. The Human Rights Center was established at Abbey Court in 2009 to
provide English classes and other programs, but moved to Barnes Street in
January after being evicted from the complex due to zoning issues.
Three Carrboro police cars trailed the group as it marched in the middle of
Jones Ferry Road from the Carrboro Town Commons to the apartment complex.
“Whose street? Our street!” they chanted when police asked them to stay in
the bike lane.
No one was arrested.
Aspen Square Management also owns Berkshire Manor Apartment Homes and
Berkshire Manor West on N.C. 54 in Carrboro.
Berkshire Manor offers 750 square-foot, one-bedroom/one-bathroom apartments
starting at $759/month. Two-bedroom/one-bathroom 950 square-foot apartments are
Berkshire Manor West has 840 square-foot two-bedroom/one-bathroom apartments
Wilson, who brought his complaints to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen last
month, said rent increases are driving families out the complex.
Juanita Creedmore, another Collins Crossing resident, spoke to the aldermen
about poor living conditions, including bugs in her apartment.
“When you go into the kitchen, you better have a flyswatter,” said Creedmore,
who has lived in the apartment complex for four years.
At the meeting, Mayor Mark Chilton said he would meet with Aspen Square
Management and draft a letter of support from the board
Read more here:
By Jose Vicente BernabeuQué Pasa
Carrboro.- Son las siete y media de la mañana de un miércoles cualquiera y la
esquina de Davie con Jones Ferry Road cada vez está más concurrida de latinos
que llegan en busca de una oportunidad para trabajar. Son jornaleros que
esperan la llegada de un patrón, el que sea, alguien que les dé trabajo. Puede
ser por unas horas, por un día o por varios, en el mejor de los casos.
“Ahí esperamos el tiempo que haga falta, al final siempre llega alguien en
su camioneta para llevarte a cortar césped, a transplantar arbustos o, si tienes
suerte, a trabajar en una mudanza, donde puedes sacarte $100 en solo tres
Eran las palabras de Héctor Patiño, un jornalero que lleva 25 años en Estados
Unidos que habló con Qué Pasa. Tiene alma de nómada y cuando el frío arrecia,
viaja hasta Florida –donde tiene una hija- para tratar de salir adelante en los
meses de invierno.
“En verano podemos estar hasta 80 personas en la esquina, porque hay
mucho trabajo, pero en invierno acude menos gente porque hace mucho frío, tanto,
que a veces nos traen café y comida caliente las estudiantes de la
Y aunque reconoce que su situación “es muy insegura”, afirma que “es
suficiente para salir adelante”.Viene un cambio
Este sistema, que se arrastra desde
décadas, podría cambiar o incluso extinguirse -si todo marcha correctamente- en
un futuro próximo, gracias a una iniciativa emprendida por el Human Rights
Center de Carrboro.
Esta organización no lucrativa, que lleva varios años trabajando por
mejorar la vida de los inmigrantes del área de Chapel Hill, ha confeccionado una
plataforma electrónica para poner en contacto a jornaleros y empleadores de un
modo “eficaz, rápido y sencillo”. Algo capaz de “garantizar una cierta seguridad
laboral y los derechos de los trabajadores”, según las palabras de Judith Blau,
doctorada en sociología y presidenta del Human Rights Center.
Junto con su equipo, Blau está desarrollando una base de datos “online” a
partir del software libre Ubuntu para censar a todos los jornaleros de Carrboro
y poner sus datos a disposición de los empleadores, siempre respetando su
“Nuestra idea es actuar como mediadores”, señaló a Qué Pasa Alberto
Rodríguez, un jornalero perteneciente a HRC, “para fijar las condiciones de
trabajo, el salario, las tareas… y que así los patronos no nos estafen”.
La idea surgió de un estudiante de la UNC, quien le propuso a Judith
“hacer algo para evitar que los trabajadores tengan que esperar en la calle cada
día”. Con este sistema, los empleadores podrían buscar con tiempo a los
jornaleros y estos podrían planificarse, de alguna manera, su trabajo a corto
Los“laborers” (“jornaleros” en inglés) han aplaudido la idea y esperan
con impaciencia que se ponga en marcha.
“Los jornaleros cobramos un poco más de lo que lo haríamos en otros
trabajos, pero eso así porque nuestra situación no es nada segura. Si trabajas
hoy tienes que guardar para mañana, porque no sabes si trabajarás”, lamenta
A día de hoy, el programa todavía está en fase de desarrollo, y desde
Humans Right Center se están dedicando a recopilar los datos de los trabajadores
mediante un formulario.
Por ello, Alberto Rodríguez hizo un llamado para que
todos los interesados en inscribirse en la base de datos, acudan a la sede de la
asociación (107 Barnes St, Carborro) para rellenar o entregar el formulario, que
algunos miembros de la asociación ya han comenzado a repartir entre los
trabajadores de la esquina.
“Queremos lanzar la aplicación a mediados de noviembre, por Acción de
Gracias”, señaló Blau, quien espera que el número de usuarios (30
inicialmente) pueda incrementarse poco a poco y que la base de datos “llegue a
extenderse por todo el Triángulo”. BENEFÍCIESE
Human Rights Center de Carrboro requiere de
su colaboración, si es jornalero, para incluirlo en la base de datos.
Acuda a la sede de la asociación en el 107 Barnes St (Carrboro) y rellene el
formulario impreso para
Access the original article here
By Susan Dickson
For years, local advocates for day laborers have envisioned a center where workers could gather, in a safe and supportive setting, to find employment. Though the creation of a brick-and-mortar center is still likely a ways off, the Human Rights Center of Chapel Hill and Carrboro (HRC) is working to form a different sort of center – electronically.
Judith Blau, director of the HRC, said the idea for an electronic day-laborer center emerged in one of the HRC’s recent meetings. HRC staff and volunteers had hoped that its new location – at 107 Barnes St. – would be able to serve as the site for the long-awaited day-laborer center, but learned that they would have to apply for a rezoning for that to happen, and rezoning processes can be time consuming and costly.
The HRC moved to Barnes Street earlier this year after the Abbey Court Condominiums homeowners’ association forced the center to leave the complex on grounds that commercial properties weren’t permitted under homeowner association covenants. The HRC provides a number of services, including an afterschool program in partnership with Scroggs Elementary School, computer classes and a youth soccer program.
Issues surrounding day laborers have always been at the forefront of the HRC’s concerns, as many day laborers and their family members use HRC services.
Day laborers, many of them Latino, gather at the corner of Jones Ferry and Davie roads to wait to be picked up for construction work, and community members have been trying to find a location for an official center where workers could be protected from wage theft and benefit from additional services that such a center could provide.
An electronic day-laborer center could help provide those services as well, Blau said.
“We’ve talked with the workers, and they really like the idea,” she said. “The hurdle will be the employers.”
Rafael Gallegos, assistant director of the HRC, said he hopes the electronic center – basically, a website – would serve not only construction workers but people looking for other types of work, like cooking, cleaning or child care.
“Almost 50 percent of the day laborers are hired by average people – not contractors,” he said, adding that the website could serve as a place for those people in the community who need help with odd jobs to post those jobs and find workers.
Additionally, Blau, a professor of sociology at UNC, said she plans to enlist the help of student volunteers to write letters to employers to start the discussion on the electronic worker center.
“We’re not asking any questions about taxes,” she said. “We just want to know whether they have jobs available.”
Gallegos said the HRC has begun collecting information from workers regarding their strongest skills and occupations. On the website, workers would be listed only by what they consider their two best occupations, “so that if you’re hired, we know you’re going to do a good job,” Gallegos said.
“It will certainly benefit the day laborers,” Blau said. “If it’s a big success and employers and day laborers like it, then we will see no need for a brick-and mortar worker center. If there are bumps along the way, then we’ll have to apply for a rezoning.”
One of the biggest challenges faced by day laborers is the risk of wage theft, and Gallegos hopes that the electronic worker center will attract the type of employers who are less likely to take advantage of workers. He estimates that three-quarters of the regular day laborers who gather at the corner of Jones Ferry and Davie roads have experienced non-payment for work.
However, he added: “I think we cannot think that this process would by itself fix wage theft. I think we have to look at it from different angles and we have to have legal backing.”
The HRC distributes cards to day laborers to fill out about employers when they accept work, so that those employers could be identified in the event of wage theft. In addition, Gallegos said the HRC hopes to hold a series of workshops or small-group discussions to talk about issues surrounding wage theft and how workers can try to protect themselves against it.
Once the discussion gets going, Gallegos hopes workers will be proactive and “maybe we can be more successful as we go along.”
see article here.
by Susan Dickson
David Iberkleid believes in the power of information – so much so that he helps bring all sorts of information to 72,000 Spanish-speaking people every day.
As a graduate student in information science at UNC a few years ago, the Bolivian-American worked as a volunteer teaching computer skills to Latino families at Carrboro Elementary School. He was surprised to learn how little some of those he taught knew of the World Wide Web.
“I found that … there was a huge segment of society that wasn’t accessing the Internet like we would expect them to,” he said, adding that “little things like putting the cursor in a box and managing several different pages” were foreign to those he taught.
Iberkleid, a self-proclaimed information junkie, decided to keep teaching computer classes to Latinos once his volunteering gig ended, helping people in their homes and eventually through the Human Rights Center of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. He wanted to help break through the information divide, and a little over a year ago an answer came to him.
“Everybody has a phone,” he said. “Most people have unlimited text messaging.”
Today Iberkleid helps bring information to the Spanish-speaking community in a seemingly simple way, reaching 72,000 subscribers across four states, including about 320 in Carrboro, about one per Latino household. His service is called PaseLaVoz, or Spread the Word, and provides Spanish speakers with free text-messaged information on topics ranging from events and jobs to traffic and emergency information. Subscribers find the service through word of mouth, and it’s been exploding in popularity, with subscriptions tripling in the past three months.
The Town of Carrboro even recently took notice of Iberkleid’s power to reach the Latino community, using PaseLaVoz to reach out to Latino residents about a public hearing regarding changes to Jones Ferry Road, an area where many Spanish-speaking residents live.
“It was a way of trying to reach out to them through non-traditional channels,” said town transportation planner Jeff Brubaker. “In traditional channels, we aren’t very successful.”
HRC director Judith Blau has also used the service to reach out to the community and get out information of particular interest to Spanish-speaking residents.
Iberkleid said that while his subscriptions are growing rapidly in areas far from Carrboro, this area was a great place to start his service.
“Carrboro was a key fertile ground for this,” he said, noting the “openness of the community.”
He used a grant from the HRC and private funding to help fund the startup, and hopes to find a way for the service to become self-sustaining.
However, Iberkleid doesn’t want to charge for subscriptions, since so much of the information his service provides is user-generated and content could suffer with fewer subscribers.
But he knows what he does is valuable.
“We send text messages, and text messages get opened,” Iberkleid said.
He hopes to leverage that dissemination of information to attract advertisers hoping to reach a targeted audience in a timely manner.
Right now, subscribers get varying numbers of text messages, depending on their interests, averaging a half to two text messages a day.
“We know that the threshold where they stop tolerating it is much higher than that,” Iberkleid said. Moreover, PaseLaVoz previously allowed subscribers to send free advertising through the service, so he knows the interest is there.
Just this month, Iberkleid began offering advertising through PaseLaVoz, so he has yet to see how popular his service will be with advertisers. But if the interest in subscriptions is any indication, the little Carrboro-born business may have success in its future.
“I think it’s just a matter of establishing ourselves as a go-to place to do this,” he said.
by Judith Blau
As many readers will remember, the expression “Catch 22” was made famous by Joseph Heller in his 1961 novel by the same title. More generally, it refers to a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem. It is a logical conundrum. The novel reveals unspeakable horrors as the airmen stranded on the Mediterranean island of Pianosa struggle to keep their sanity through bombardments. The novel asks us to think deeply about personal gain versus the collective good; about people who scramble on the backs of others in their pursuit of greed and self-interest; about the dangers of profit-seeking at the expense of others; about justice and human rights.
But if there is a conundrum – a Catch 22 – for the novelist’s protagonists, there is none for the reader. We want
them to overcome their self-interest; we want
them to be rescued; wewant
them to “live happily ever after.”
There is a Catch 22 hanging out in our community, and we need to solve it together. Some employers are altruistically taking the risks; others are ruthlessly exploiting their workers. Meanwhile, we stand by idle, twiddling our thumbs. That is not what Carrborites are known for. It is not what we are proud of.
Let me be specific.
Carrboro has an outstanding labor pool of skilled and unskilled workers, many of whom have been in our community for as many as 18 years. There is no path to citizenship, and this is the Catch 22 – employers want the skills and labor of undocumented workers, but they also consider such employment to be sub rosa
Department of Labor laws cover all workers, documented or not: dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs48.htm
Unfortunately, independent contractors are not covered, and most undocumented workers are independent contractors: dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs13.pdf
However, if workers are employees of an LLC, their employment with other employers is protected. See the SCA Act: dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-sca.htm
I am reaching out to residents of Carrboro to help me pursue this path, in the spirit of “Alice’s Restaurant,” another 1960s classic that also revealed a Catch 22. You youngsters can find the lyrics to Arlo Guthrie’s song here: arlo.net/resources/lyrics/alices.shtmlJudith Blau is the director of the Human Rights Center of Chapel Hill and Carrboro and a professor of sociology at UNC.
See the full article here
The Carrboro Citizen
CARRBORO – In a move that could lead to the rezoning of property previously proposed for a Family Dollar site, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen voted unanimously on Tuesday to set a public hearing regarding the rezoning of land at the intersection of Jones Ferry Road and Alabama Avenue.
The proposed changes would rezone 100, 101 and 105 Alabama Ave. from neighborhood business to residential.
Board member Dan Coleman proposed the changes.
“I think it was abundantly clear from all the discussion we heard … around the Family Dollar proposal that the B3 [neighborhood business] zone is not appropriate for those properties,” he said, adding that the rezoning wouldn’t preclude future applicants from proposing commercial projects there, but that they would have to request a rezoning before the board of aldermen in order to do so.
The Carrboro Board of Adjustment last week voted 5-2 to deny a variance needed for a Family Dollar store proposed for the intersection. However, the developer recently appealed to the town to debate the existence of an ephemeral stream on the property – the reason that a variance to the town’s land-use ordinance was needed. Should the town determine that the ephemeral stream does not exist, or that the developer could make changes to the property such that it would not exist, a variance would no longer be needed, but the property would still need a special-use permit approved by the board of adjustment.
However, if the property is rezoned to residential, a commercial developer would have to seek a rezoning from the board of aldermen in order to develop such a project.
Raleigh-based Stronach Properties had proposed building an 8,100-square-foot, single-story Family
Dollar with 26 parking spaces on a one-acre parcel. Alabama Avenue residents and other community members came out strongly against the project, saying the development would bring increased traffic, noise pollution and unsafe conditions to the neighborhood while decreasing values of surrounding properties.
The developer has since withdrawn the application, but the board of aldermen said the issues surrounding the project point to a larger issue regarding which projects are reviewed by the board of aldermen and which are not. In the Family Dollar case, the project required a special-use permit, which would not require board of aldermen approval unless a site was within certain watershed or downtown districts, unlike conditional-use permits, which are subject to aldermen approval.
Board members said they would like to explore ways for projects with strong public interest – like the Family Dollar – to come before the board of aldermen.
Town Attorney Mike Brough reminded the board that the board of adjustment has the same standards as the board of aldermen, though they might have a different perspective, and that presumably the same decision would come out of either board on permit matters.
“I would try to discourage the perception … that somehow this board has the ability, because it is an elected board, to just turn a project down because a neighborhood is not in favor of it,” he said.
Board member Michelle Johnson said a key difference between the board of aldermen and the board of adjustment is that the aldermen serve as policymakers.
“It’s not that we would vote on it any differently than they did; I think that they did a great job,” she said.
Board member Jacquie Gist said she would like to have quantitative guidelines, like the size of a project, that determine how projects are reviewed.
The board set a public hearing regarding the rezoning for Sept. 25, and staff will report back to them on possible changes regarding permit review.
Article may be found here