Mobile’s mayor reveals details behind the plan to “build or renovate” 1,000 homes by 2026.
A plan for the construction or renovation of 1,000 homes over the next six years calls for the repair of over 550 residential properties east of Interstate 65 in Mobile and the renovation or new construction of 275 rental units.
The plans were unveiled by Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson on Thursday, almost two months after he first unveiled the program during his speech on the “State of the City”.
“This is intended to increase the population of the city of Mobile and reverse the trend of challenges that come with the rot,” said Stimpson. “If we can go back and restore the neighborhoods, all sorts of benefits can come of that.”
Under the plan, the city will use $ 15 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and potentially $ 300,000 in city funding provided by Mobile City Council President Levon Manzie to help fund a program fund that aims to improve the housing stock in some of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. The program is also funded through a mix of tax credits, public-private partnerships, and funding from the Alabama Housing Finance Authority.
The vast majority, 83%, relates to the repair of existing condominiums or the renovation and construction of rental apartments. The remainder of the program includes assisting 200 first-time home buyers with down payments, renovating 100 derelict or abandoned properties, and building 30 new single-family homes on land the city controls.
“We’re comfortable with these numbers,” said Stimpson. “Our hope is that this will grow.”
Similar neighborhood reinvestment programs have been introduced in cities in recent years. Birmingham partnered with Shipt and DC BLOX in 2018 to fund a program that included demolishing derelict buildings and renovating homes.
In Mobile, efforts to revitalize the oldest neighborhoods come at a time when Alabama’s fourth largest city has been losing population in recent years. Over the past 10 years, the port city’s population has decreased from 195,111 in 2010 to an estimated 188,720 in 2019. The city’s population decline is due to the fact that Huntsville, which has gained over 20,000 new residents since 2010, ranks Birmingham as the largest city over the next three years.
Stimpson and other Mobile officials backed a controversial annexation plan last year that failed with one vote in the city council. This plan would have annexed about 13,000 people west of the city limits and given Mobile a population large enough to be able to call itself at least temporarily the second largest city in Alabama.
Stimpson acknowledged that the 1000 home program was due in part to this annexation vote.
“But you also have to (address) devastated neighborhoods,” said Stimpson. “There are other things involved. These are usually high crime areas. Moving rot and rehabilitating homes and moving families will reduce crime. You have built the infrastructure. That is cheaper. “
The program also comes after the city identified 1,625 dilapidated residential properties in Mobile as part of a rot trail mapping program and monitored a program that resulted in the removal of approximately 53% from 2016 to 2020. The city has also helped over 190 people with deposit assistance since 2013.
James Roberts, the city’s executive director of neighborhood development, said the latest poll showed the city still had 770 dilapidated lots.
Roberts said a website will be set up with more details on how people can apply for housing or repairs. The program aims to provide affordable housing and residents must meet certain income limits to qualify. In Mobile, that’s about $ 49,100 for a family of four.
Roberts said the city receives around $ 2.5 million each year in grants for community development blocks and $ 800,000 to $ 1 million in the Home Investment Partnership program, which will be used to fund the program.
Roberts said the city is updating some features related to the program and is instructing anyone interested in participating, such as contractors or developers, to contact community services analyst Shakeena Cox at 251-208-6290.