The 1980s brought only one new development built by the Durham Housing Authority - that of Edgemont Elms. (Note: Forest Hill Heights actually opened in 1981, but the project was approved in the 1970s.) The Edgemont area was developed as a mill village by Julian Carr in the first decade of the 20th century to house workers at the Durham Hosiery Mill No. 6. As you can see from this photo of the Edgemont neighborhood, thought to be from the 1980s, the quality of housing was substandard.
During the 1980s, the US economy was experiencing record high interest rates and the federal government's programs to reduce poverty and house low-income Americans declined sharply. This exacerbated the need for low-income housing in many communities across the country. Efforts to revitalize downtown areas often resulted in gentrification with renovated properties being taken over by higher income families.
In an effort to "get the government out of the housing business," more emphasis on Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) became a more prominent means to use existing housing to serve low-income families.