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With Eye on Pandemic, Birmingham Mayor Woodfin Returns to his ‘Number One Priority’

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Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin gives an update on neighborhood revitalization. (Erica Wright, The Birmingham Times)
By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times 

The work must go on.

That was the message Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin delivered Tuesday standing in front of a newly demolished, formerly blighted structure in East Lake, while acknowledging “unforeseen obstacles” that have interrupted the way of life for all residents.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve all had to make personal sacrifices and adjust the way we do business. Through it all our administration has remained committed to our number one priority, that is neighborhood revitalization,” Woodfin said. “Today, I want to assure you that the work to build a better Birmingham and a better community continues to move forward.”

Debris is picked up where a once blighted home in the Eastlake area stood for more than nine years. (Erica Wright, The Birmingham Times)

Woodfin who was elected in 2017 said more than 900 blighted homes in the city have been demolished since 2018. This summer, 34 more blighted, non-residential structures are scheduled to be demolished, he said.

He said the important first step in revitalization is to stabilize neighborhoods, the demolition process is a key part of that.

“It’s also important to understand that revitalization is more than destruction and the removal of blight . . . it’s about rebuilding,” he said.

The city has invested resources to address neighborhood revitalization through several programs, he said, including the Citywide Rehabilitation Program is a partnership with Neighborhood Housing Services of Birmingham and funded from the city’s Neighborhood Revitalization Fund.

The program provides repairs and upgrades for low-to-moderate income homeowners.

“The average investment is more than $12,000. You may have seen some of the fruits of that work on our social media channels with more to come,” the mayor said.

He also pointed to the city attorney’s Drug and Nuisance Abatement Team which uses the state’s Drug Nuisance Abatement Act of 1996 to assess and evaluate nuisance properties.

“That team is using state laws . . . meets monthly to assess and evaluate nuisance properties,” said Woodfin. “More than 95 properties are currently under review. The team is actively moving on these locations and pursuing cases related to these properties in municipal and state court. Those owners face a fine and will be held accountable to clean up their properties.”

The mayor said the city is also nearing completion on more than 23 miles of street resurfacing as part of a 5-Year Plan and the project represents a $6.7 million investment.

For a complete report on these projects visit www.birminghamal.gov/strategy.