The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced that Birmingham is a finalist for a $50 million CHOICE Neighborhood Implementation (CNI) grant. If selected, this grant would create 1,100 affordable housing units across Smithfield, Graymont, and College Hills communities.
“We are incredibly proud that HUD and Secretary (Marcia) Fudge were so interested in our application that they have selected us as a finalist for this opportunity that would transform greater Smithfield into one of our cities most desired places to live, work and play,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin. “We are also grateful for our partnership in this with HABD under the leadership of Dontrelle Young Foster.”
“As a finalist, we have our sights set on showing HUD just how transformational this grant could be for Birmingham residents and the larger Smithfield, Graymont, and College Hills community,” said HABD President and CEO Dontrelle Young Foster. “We look forward to welcoming HUD to the Magic City along with our partner, the City of Birmingham, and are hopeful in our odds of being named a grant recipient later this year.”
Birmingham’s application was a result of a partnership led by the Housing of Authority of the Birmingham District and the City of Birmingham. The CNI grant is perhaps the most competitive and desired of all federal grants with a goal of replacing severely distressed public housing and transforming the surrounding community with both living and economic opportunities.
While the primary focus of Birmingham’s plan is replacing Smithfield Court, a 500-unit public housing community built in 1942, the proposal would create more than a thousand new affordable housing units, including both new multifamily residences for rental and affordable single-family homes for ownership.
“The CHOICE grant allows us to reimagine how we think about affordable housing in our City,” said Dr. Meghan Venable-Thomas, director of community development for the City of Birmingham. “Our residents deserve the very best that we have to offer, and we will continue to work very hard to make sure they have the housing options they need.”
HUD plans to conduct site visits in the coming weeks. HABD plans to leverage over $900 million in housing, people, education and community investments should it be named a grant recipient. In 2019, Birmingham previously applied for a Choice Neighborhoods grant unsuccessfully. This time, with more than 40 partners in the effort, the City and HABD are confident in the likelihood of Birmingham being an awardee.