Huntsville is located in north central Alabama, and is the County seat of Madison County.The city is bounded on the east and north by the Appalachian foothills, and to the south by the Tennessee River. The city of Huntsville is well known for its position in the "high tech" fields, however, service and manufacturing industries are also a critical component of the local economic base.
Huntsville's Consolidated Plan presents a strategic vision for housing and community development. It includes a One-Year Action Plan for spending approximately $3.636 million of community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnership Program, program income, and Emergency shelter grant funds in 1995. These funds will primarily be spent on housing and neighborhood livability activities.
The City has created a Citizens Advisory Committee to provide on-going input
into the City's Consolidated Plan. additionally, the city consulted with a
variety of City departments and agencies and held two public hearings. The
Mayor's Homeless Advisory Commission was also consulted for input into the
Continuum of Care portion of the Consolidated Plan. A 30 day comment period was
provided after the draft plan was developed and prior to City Council adoption
of the Consolidated Plan on March 23, 1995.
Huntsville's 1990 population was 159,789 with 63,131 households. The current median family income is $43,100 for a family of four. Ethnic minority population within the city was 27.1 percent; 24.4 percent was African American, 2.1 percent was Asian or Pacific Islander, and 0.5 percent was Native American.
According to the 1990 Census, of the 63,131 households, 14,932 had incomes
at or below 50% of the median family income. Huntsville's lower income
households are generally concentrated in an area surrounding the Central
Business District (CBD) which comprises six census tracts. The poverty level for
Huntsville is 8.9%.
The City's current unemployment rate has been impacted by the recent reductions in defense spending, however, the rate has been consistently at or below the State average for several years. The number of affordable housing units in the City has been an issue for several years due to the high median income of the City forcing rental rates higher.
Generally, as rapid employment growth continues within the Huntsville/Madison County area, an increasing proportion of residential construction will occur outside the city limits of Huntsville. Since 1985, approximately 67 percent of housing construction has occurred outside the city limits. Thus, the city must maintain its current housing stock through aggressive code enforcement and housing rehabilitation programs in order to attract and maintain residents.
According to the 1990 Census, Huntsville has 67,818 housing units. Rental housing units account for 42% of the units in stock and had a vacancy rate of 9.89%. Owner occupied units account for 57% of the units in stock with a vacancy rate of 2.11%. Approximately 8,000 rental units were constructed between 1980 and 1990. The number of owner-occupied units has also increased significantly, however, the average price of a home has increased from $97,514 in 1991 to $104,864 in 1994.
About 4% of rental housing and 1% of owner-occupied housing were in substandard condition according to the 1990 Census.
An examination of Huntsville's affordable housing needs indicates that the greatest demand is for standard condition rental units at affordable rates. Approximately sixty-seven (67) percent of extremely low and seventy-three (73) percent of low income renters are paying in excess of thirty (30) percent of their income for housing. In order to increase the number of affordable units in standard condition, the City must ascertain that existing units are not lost because of substandard conditions. Rehabilitation insures that existing lower income housing units are in standard condition, and remain a part of affordable housing stock.
The second highest need is two-fold; assist low and moderate income renters to become homeowners, and enable extremely low , low and moderate income homeowners to maintain standard condition housing without experiencing undue cost burdens. Because of Huntsville's high median family income most newly constructed residential units are not affordable for lower income families. Acquisition and rehabilitation of existing single family housing offer the most feasible means of providing and maintaining homeownership opportunities for lower income residents.
The latest survey of homeless persons (conducted on 11/22/94) found 735 persons residing in shelters or on the street. Of the 735 persons counted, 177 were members of families, and 558 were individuals. The homeless population in Huntsville consisted primarily of men, although about 20 % were women and 15 % were children.
Huntsville has 420 emergency shelter beds, of which 85-90 % are for men. Very few beds are available for families with children, this needs to be addressed in the City's Continuum of Care Plan. Currently, ten agencies in the metropolitan area offer either emergency or transitional housing for the homeless. Some transitional programs are geared specifically toward special needs populations such as persons with mental illness, or individuals with substance abuse problems. Permanent supportive housing for homeless and non-homeless with special needs, such as the frail elderly, persons with disabilities, and persons with HIV/AIDS is being partially addressed through a shelter Plus Care grant to the city. However, this does not meet the total needs of the homeless population.
Huntsville has 1865 public housing units, 350 Section 202 units, 705 units of section 8 housing(of which 482 are certificates, 152 are vouchers, and 71 are FZS certificates.
Currently, there are approximately 700 families on the public housing authority waiting list, very few of the 1865 units are currently vacant, and none are expected to be lost. As of January 30, 1995, 50 Section 8 units were vacant, and none are expected to be lost from the existing inventory. The mix of units available to Section 8 recipients consists of 19 % one bedroom, 53 % two bedroom, 22 % three bedroom, and 2 % four bedroom units.
An examination of Huntsville's Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Regulations, Standard Housing Code, and permitting system has revealed no regulatory barriers which prevent the construction of affordable housing within the City. The zoning ordinance has been modified to accommodate existing lot sizes in the northeastern area of the city. the Planning Commission and the Planning staff have worked with developers to allow higher density development which has allowed them to provide housing to those families at or below 80 % of income.
The City of Huntsville has completed its analysis of impediments to fair housing choice. As required by HUD, the analysis is kept in the Office of Community Development.
Of the 33,780 very low and other low income households, 23,160 are estimated to contain lead- based paint. in 1991, the Huntsville/Madison County Health Department began screening children for the detection of elevated blood levels. since then 81 children were found to have elevated blood levels. The Department has identified a lack of public awareness and the inability to track tested children as deficiencies in lead poisoning prevention.
Huntsville is fortunate to have a low unemployment rate. Nevertheless, developing the skills of low- income persons to meet the requirements of a changing economy will remain an important long- term need. Community development needs include gainful employment for the at-risk population, adult education and vocational training programs, self-sufficiency programs and intensive case management , affordable child care, retraining for displaced workers, and infrastructure improvements.
The Community Development Division works closely with other city
departments, the Mayor's Homeless Advisory Commission, Peer Technical Assistance
Committee for the Homeless nonprofit groups, Developers, Bankers,, and others
to implement the City's Consolidated Plan. Additionally, the City coordinates
activities with County and State agencies and departments.
The overall goal of the city of Huntsville's community development programs is to develop a viable urban community through the provision of decent housing, a suitable living environment, and expanding economic opportunities principally for low and moderate income persons. Huntsville will continue to leverage both public and private resources in the implementation of the above goal. The City estimates that 492,180,810 will be needed to adequately address its goal over the next five years.
Although specific subgroups (small families or elderly households) may have problems that are unique to their populations, housing problems in Huntsville are primarily related to low income and an aging housing stock. Housing priorities and strategies reflect those conditions. Housing objectives focus on the supply of affordable housing. community development objectives are to revitalize residential and neighborhood commercial areas, and provide economic development opportunities for low- and moderate-income citizens.
Priorities for affordable housing include increasing the supply of affordable housing and reducing housing cost burdens for low-income households, improving the living environments of lower income residents, assisting public housing residents to become more self-sufficient, and addressing the needs of large families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.
Priorities for homeless alleviation include providing adequate emergency shelters, transitional, and permanent housing for homeless persons, creating supportive services for homeless individuals and families, and providing support networks and services to persons at risk of becoming homeless.
The priority for non-homeless person with special needs is supportive housing to support services for the frail elderly, persons with HIV/AIDS, and other persons with special needs.
The highest priority is for code enforcement, neighborhood clean-up, and planning in order to stabilize those neighborhoods currently in a blighted condition. These programs will be implemented throughout the five years of the Consolidated Plan.
Priorities for economic development activities include the promotion of small business development, improved coordination between the public and private sectors to ensure continued diversification of the local and regional economy. job training opportunities for youth and those with insufficient skills will also be pursued.
Priorities for other community development activities include public facilities improvements (parks, recreation and youth centers), infrastructure improvements (street, sidewalks, and sewer), and public services provision (including services to the elderly, child care for working mothers and parents, and supplemental education programs).
Huntsville has adopted the following goals to alleviate poverty in the City, alleviate excessive cost burdens associated with housing rehabilitation, insure safe standard condition housing for families, integrate social services with the provision of affordable housing, provide funds for public service activities to assist families, and solicit public and private resources to assist families.
The primary Federal resources include CDBG, HOME, Section 8, public housing, Emergency Shelter Grants, and the Supportive Housing program. Resources available from the state include the Alabama Housing Finance Authority's MB, LITH, and Trust Indenture programs. Local resources include the city's General and Capital Improvements programs. Private programs include local lending institutions' affordable housing programs and a wide range of nonprofit initiatives.
The Community Development Division is responsible for the Consolidated Plan activities, but a variety of public and private organizations are involved in administering plan components. For example, several nonprofit provide services to the homeless, and private lenders operate affordable housing loan programs.
Although Huntsville feels that it has a well developed network of government
agencies, nonprofit, and private organizations to carry out its Consolidated
Plan, it also noted some gaps in the delivery of services. Coordination of
services for the non-homeless special needs population as well as the homeless
population needs strengthening. Further coordination between City, State, and
private lenders is needed to ensure that the maximum number of citizens who want
to become homeowners are able to do so.
The Huntsville One-Year Action Plan outlines the proposed use of approximately $3.6 million in CDBG, HOME, and ESG funds, in addition to program income. These funds will be spent mainly on an array of housing activities, including:
These funds will be used throughout the City, however, some are to be used in targeted neighborhoods to address slum or blight conditions that exist. In addition, significant HOME funds are allocated to nonprofit CHDOs.
The Community Development Division coordinates all activities contained in the One-Year Action Plan.
Highlights of Huntsville's housing goals for the first year include increasing the supply of affordable housing for 192 households through rehabilitation, acquisition, and new construction; additionally 300 elderly are targeted for assistance through the city's weatherization and roof repair program.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
TABLE (without associated map) provides information about the project(s).