HUD Region IV Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett Keynotes and participates in Dynamic City of Birmingham Affordability Housing Forum
HUD Region IV Administrator, Denise Cleveland-Leggett keynoted and participated in late June along with Birmingham housing, community and economic development leaders in a dynamic and informative Housing Opportunity Forum hosted by the YWCA Central Alabama. Some of the leaders that participated were Dana Ullrich, United Way, Judy Woods - United Way, Delpha Bartley-Jones - VP, CRA Office AL- Valley Bank, Pat Hoban-Moore - Interim CEO, YWCA Central Alabama, Jeanie Sosebee - Synovus Bank, Myeisha Hutchinson - Congresswoman Sewell's Office and Maggie Brooke - YWCA Central Alabama President, Board of Directors.
The main point of discussion at the Forum was the new Federal Opportunity Zone program. Leaders discussed the challenges of making Opportunity Zone feasible for low income housing projects as well as discussing a local affordable housing effort that will be the first Birmingham project approved under the Opportunity Zone Initiative. The City of Birmingham and a local non-profit will convert the old American Life/Protective Life Building (www.birminghamtimes.com/2019/04/woodfin-unveils-opportunity-zones-initiative-for-city-renewal/) into what is being called workforce housing. This project is even more significant because the affordable housing will be located within the City of Birmingham's rapidly developing and expanding Loft District and will be the first affordable housing targeted for this community.
During HUD Secretary Carson's visit in April he stated, "This Opportunity Zone program is phenomenal." "Over the last couple of years, there's been an enormous amount of capital gains and we have so many areas of the country that are economically depressed, places that have pretty much been forgotten about." "If we have a mechanism where can get some of that unrealized capital gains into those areas as an investment, think about the possibilities." "That's why this (Opportunity Zone Program) was created."
The Forum also recognized that it is important to not only ensure that housing is affordable, but that it is also important to ensure that it is available to all who are eligible. In that respect staff from the Fair Housing Division of the Birmingham Field Office also gave a sixty-minute presentation on current issues in Fair Housing. The heart of the day was a two-hour interactive discussion amongst all participants on how to increase affordable housing opportunities in the City of Birmingham. The diversity of experience at the Forum really showed during this session, as participants spoke from real world experiences in both best practices and unexpected failures. Participants left the Forum with a much better perspective on the challenges involved in developing affordable housing as well as the resources available.
|Content Archived: January 5, 2021|