New affordable housing pilot program launches in Belview Heights
Thursday marked a monumental occasion for how affordable housing can be approached in Birmingham. The first homeowners closed on the their houses in the newly-developed Oak Hill community in Belview heights, the first step in a $25 million partnership between the City of Birmingham and GROWTH by NCRC.
In January, the Birmingham City Council approved an item for the pilot program that transferred 27 lots in Belview Heights to Housing Redevelopment Corporation of America to develop affordable single-family homes. The funding will be used to help subsidize the cost of the homes, an effort that city officials hope to replicate across the city. The money that is being allocated is part of the federal American Rescue Plan funding that the City received last year.
The homes will be priced around $165,000 and will be made available to potential buyers whose income is less than $61,000 annually for a family of four, according to a presentation that was given during January’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting and Council meeting. Currently, four homes are completed on the project and more will be up for sale in the near future.
Here is the item as it appeared on the January 25th Council agenda:
An Ordinance approving and authorizing the Mayor to execute an Amended and Restated Redevelopment Agreement with Housing Reinvestment Corporation of America under which the City will transfer up to twenty-seven (27) vacant lots which comprise a portion of the former Camelia Terrace Apartments property located in the 1000 and 1100 blocks of 51st Street, in the Belview Heights Neighborhood to Housing Reinvestment Corporation of America for a price of $1.00 per lot, and Housing Corporation of America will develop a single family housing unit on each lot transferred. In consideration for the Redeveloper’s agreement to complete the Project and sell homes both as market rate and affordable homes, the City hereby agrees to provide an amount not to exceed $540,000.00 in support of the Project as authorized by the Alabama Code 11–96A and consistent with the development of affordable housing under the American Rescue Plan Act. [First Reading] (Submitted by the City Attorney) (Recommended by the Budget and Finance Committee)**
Councilor Carol Clarke, who represents the district, said this project is scalable and could help bring these affordable housing opportunities to other parts of the city following the success of Oak Hill.
“I think all of Birmingham should be celebrating this huge step towards restoring the fabric of this community,” Councilor Clarke said. “Not only are these homes that are now going to be on the tax roll, it helps alleviate the pressures of having to maintain lots, which cost time and resources. The thing that gave me goose bumps was seeing a man who had previously lived in the Camellia Terrace apartments, where this development is now located, and he is now a homeowner through this program. We’re setting off a new trend in Birmingham that will change the way we approach development and I think it will continue to grow.”
Clarke said she believes other developers will see this project and want to recreate these affordable housing opportunities across the city.
“The City of Birmingham’s commitment to neighborhood revitalization remains strong, and that’s why we’re proud to stand beside GROWTH by NCRC on the Oak Hill development,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin. “Oak Hill offers high-quality homeownership opportunities to a well-deserving community that has weathered economic challenges. The Belview Heights community is ripe for this kind of project. The addition of new, affordable houses will allow this community to know the joys of homeownership, as well as stimulate much-needed growth and pride in the area.”
The resources allocated from the city were part of the funds received from the American Rescue Plan. This is a groundbreaking approach to affordable housing by leveraging these federal funds to help Birmingham residents have a clear path to homeownership in communities where they live.