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Durham Announces New Parking Pilot Programs for Free Daytime Parking in Downtown Garages

April 23, 2021



Durham Announces New Parking Pilot Programs for Free Daytime Parking in Downtown Garages


Programs to Help Downtown Workers Pay for Daytime Parking and Free Parking May 3-7 to Help Downtown Businesses Attract Customers



DURHAM, N.C. – As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic causes continued financial challenges for many downtown businesses and their employees, the City of Durham is piloting two programs to provide financial relief for those who work or visit downtown businesses and may be overly burdened by daytime parking fees.


To assist downtown businesses with attracting customers back to downtown, the City’s Transportation Department is providing free daytime parking in all City-owned parking garages from Monday, May 3 through Friday, May 7. According to Chief Parking Administrator Thomas Leathers, his team selected the first week in May to encourage residents and visitors to make downtown part of their daytime destination since they won’t have to pay for daytime parking in any of the City’s five parking garages.


“May is a big month in the Bull City. We celebrate our new graduates from North Carolina Central and Duke Universities, we celebrate Mother’s Day, we start venturing out more due to the warm, spring weather, and this year, we celebrate our businesses starting to re-open their doors to customers,” Leathers said. “To encourage residents and visitors to make downtown a part of these celebrations, we’re offering free daytime parking in all five of our parking garages during the first week of May. Customers will simply need to pull a ticket upon entry to the garage. When exiting, simply insert the ticket into the device to exit free of charge.”


In addition to offering a free parking week next month, the City’s Transportation Department is also debuting its Downtown Employee Daytime Parking Assistance Pilot Program. For up to three months, 80 eligible downtown workers will receive free daytime parking in one of the City’s five parking garages. According to Leathers, the goal of this program is to help downtown workers hit hardest by the pandemic. “Downtown workers, many employed in the restaurant and hospitality industry, have been hit particularly hard by the financial impact of COVID-19. These workers often have to pay for daytime parking which can add up, particularly during hard times,” Leathers said.


The pilot program, which will take place beginning on Monday, May 3 and ending on Friday, July 30, is for employees who live in Durham, work downtown, and struggle to afford daytime parking for work. This pilot program will be available on a first come, first-serve basis. To be eligible for the pilot program, individuals must meet all of the eligibility requirements: be a current Durham resident; be employed by a downtown Durham business; and within the past six months have met one of the following income requirements:

  • Receiving government benefits such as food stamps, WIC, Medicare, Medicaid, SSI, unemployment insurance, or COVID emergency relief for a financial hardship
  • Children are eligible for free or reduced lunch
  • Living in a Durham Housing Authority property, eligible for Section 8 housing, or qualify for property tax assistance
  • Experiencing homelessness
  • Income at or below 200% of the current federal poverty level, which is an annual income of $25,520 for a household size of one.


To apply, downtown workers who meet these eligibility requirements are encouraged to complete their application online beginning on Friday, April 23 at 8 a.m. or in-person at the Park Durham Customer Service Center, located at 105 W. Morgan St. Suite 104. The Center is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.


According to Leathers, these two programs in addition to delaying parking rate increases until January 2022, is part of the City’s efforts to create programs and services to help fuel the recovery of the downtown economy. “Our team has taken a number of steps to help downtown workers and downtown businesses. We recognize that we are still in the midst of a pandemic that continues to cause financial challenges for many downtown businesses, employees, residents, and visitors,” Leathers said. “Our local business owners and their employees are an essential part of our community. When our businesses thrive, Durham thrives.”


Both pilot programs are being funded with grant funds from Durham’s participation in the PolicyLink Cities & Counties for Fines and Fees Justice Program. A cohort, including Durham and nine other cities and counties from across the country, examined how to decrease the financial burden fines and fees place on low-income residents and communities of color. In addition to piloting parking relief programs, the City’s Transportation Department is also exploring ability-to-pay models for parking fines and other fees.


About the City of Durham Transportation Department

The Transportation Department remains steadfast in its commitment to providing and maintaining quality, multimodal infrastructure to improve mobility, promote environmental sustainability, and enhance the quality of life for current and future Durham residents, businesses, and visitors. To learn more, follow the department on Twitter.