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Housing Is A Commodity. Yet Jesse Hamilton McCoy II Fights For It As A Human Right

Jesse Hamilton McCoy II is a Durham-based lawyer who is fighting unjust evictions in Durham County, North Carolina.
Jesse Hamilton McCoy II is a Durham-based lawyer who is fighting unjust evictions in Durham County, North Carolina.

There were not many other poor students in his class at law school. Jesse Hamilton McCoy II knew that most of the laws he learned about were not written or enforced by working class Black people. 

Host Anita Rao talks with Jesse Hamilton McCoy II, a Durham housing lawyer, about the ongoing evictions crisis.

As the first in his family — and one of the few in his community —  to attend college, McCoy could easily point to his own story as evidence of the classic American dream narrative. Instead, he chooses to frame his story as an exception to the rule and dedicates himself to those in his community that he saw drop out of school to help pay the family bills or turn to illegal work when turned down from other jobs.

He talks to host Anita Rao about the ways the justice system can prioritize humanity over the market as evictions cases return to courts after a months-long pause. McCoy is a housing lawyer, the James Scott Farrin Lecturing Fellow at Duke Law and supervising attorney for the Duke Law Civil Jushtice Clinic. He runs a Durham County eviction diversion program in partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina.

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Anita Rao is the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content. She has traveled the country recording interviews for the Peabody Award-winning StoryCorps production department, founded and launched a podcast about millennial feminism in the South, and served as the managing editor and regular host of "The State of Things," North Carolina Public Radio's flagship daily, live talk show. Anita was born in a small coal-mining town in Northeast England but spent most of her life growing up in Iowa and has a fond affection for the Midwest.
Grant Holub-Moorman is a producer for The State of Things, WUNC's daily, live talk show that features the issues, personalities and places of North Carolina.