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B'ville: A home for all

Of course, there are the residents who are going to oppose affordable housing units being constructed near or within their neighborhoods. Durdel refers to this resistance as the Nimby principal -- Not In My Back Yard.

"To that I say we are creating housing for your children, for your parents, grandparents, school teachers, nurses, firefighters," he said. "We are not importing people to live in your community, we are creating homes for those in the community finding it difficult to find affordable housing."

Mercer Mills

Over the years, BREC has become a leader in acquiring and renovating apartment complexes that were originally financed by Farmers Home Administration, now known as Rural Development.

"It's as important to preserve existing housing as it is to create new and more cost effective housing," Durdel said, adding that his firm rebuilds the homes from the inside out.

Major renovations have been made at Mercer Mills including repairs and/or replacement of roofs, siding, kitchens, baths and flooring and common element repairs including parking lots and exterior lights. There are new laundry rooms and a new rental office. A maintenance crew also removed trees that were blocking the parking lots and streets, has taken back the landscaping and raised the canopy to allow light to broadcast to the road.

"We are doing it with the occupants there and trying to be as least imposing as possible to avoid relocation," Durdel said. "We want to give people a sense of pride in their home."

Removing 'bad apples'

In addition to the physical, mechanical and structural repairs, BREC is also addressing the human element that contributes to the root cause of the apartments' deterioration.

"There's a reason why a troubled property gets that way," Durdel said, adding that not everyone looks at affordable housing as a temporary relief and as an opportunity to get back on one's feet. He said some individuals consider affordable housing an entitlement, and then abuse the privilege by being disrespectful to neighbors and damaging the property.

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