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The Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD) board has approved the application for demolition of Southtown Court in Southside.
According to Cory Stallworth, HABD’s vice president of real estate development & capital improvement, Southtown’s buildings are obsolete and “past their useful life.” At this point, he said, “it would be more cost effective to replace rather than rehab.” A letter from Mayor Woodfin’s office indicating support for the demolition was included as part of the resolution to approve the application.
Now that the application for demolition/disposition of Southtown has been approved by the board, it will go to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD approval will take at least 90 days.
Demolition won’t necessarily happen immediately after HUD approval. Michael Lundy, president and CEO of HABD, said there will be no demolition at Southtown until the board approves a fully funded redevelopment project. The application for demolition to HUD was approved by the board–not the demolition itself.
According to Lundy, residents will likely be relocated this time next year. Cardell Davis, chairman of the HABD board, stated that relocation and demolition “go hand-in-hand.” He requested to review Southtown’s community surveys to assess residents’ plans and preferences. Davis also said the deal needs to come back to the board before demolition.
Options for residents
Residents can return to the site, move to other public housing communities in Birmingham, obtain a Section 8 housing voucher or participate in HABD’s home ownership program. Stallworth said many residents plan to utilize Section 8 vouchers to move to other multifamily housing or single-family homes. Additionally, the HABD is requesting that private landowners and landlords within Southtown’s neighborhood make units available for voucher participants. The plan is to phase residents out of Southtown, rather than move everyone at once.
“Every family that is in place when it’s time to go forward will have the opportunity to come back or utilize other relocation options.”Michael Lundy, president and CEO of HABD
Update on the Community Benefits Agreement
Richard Rice, an attorney who has been representing the residents of Southtown, is working alongside community partners on a Community Benefits Agreement for the development. These partners include the Dynamite Hill-Smithfield Community Land Trust, Greater Birmingham Ministries, Friends of Southtown Court and UAB professor Martez Files. Rice hopes to have the Community Benefits Agreement–which will address residents’ concerns as well as systemic issues associated with public housing–to the developer, HABD Board and the City of Birmingham early the week of June 24.
Rice says some residents are still unsure about what is happening with the development, so he and others are continuing to meet with them to provide information. Southtown residents and other members of the Birmingham community can voice their opinions at any HABD board meeting–the next meeting is slated for July 15.
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Bham Now will continue to update this story as it develops.