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Regions Foundation, East Lake Initiative Break Ground on Affordable Housing

Officials with Regions Foundation, East Lake Initiative, Sen. Rodger Smitherman, residents, homeowners and community partners gather for a groundbreaking in East Lake. (Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson, The Birmingham Times)

By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson

The Birmingham Times

A new day is dawning in East Lake.

A groundbreaking was held Thursday as part of East Lake Initiative’s (ELI) new affordable housing initiative for first-time homebuyers.

Over the next few years, more than a dozen families will realize their dream of home ownership.

“Our objective is to construct five homes each year for the next three to four years,” said Pam Bates, Executive Director of ELI.  “So we will have 15 homes total and as those homes are sold, we’ll reinvest that money so that it can be used to further the mission of offering affordable housing.”

ELI was founded more than 12 years ago and serves families in housing, economic development, health and nutrition, and education.

Regions Foundation is a prime supporter and major donor of the initiative, giving the program a $400,000 boost.

Marta Self, executive director of Regions Foundation, said it’s not about her organization but the people and their families who’ve put in the work to receive the homes.

“This is really creating an impact. This is not charity,” said Self. “The foundation is … helping create housing opportunities [by] helping the people that are going to be living in those houses.”

Bates said the future homeowners worked with “coaches who had their listening ears on” and a common theme of home ownership kept emerging.

The next step involves new construction, but Bates said her organization has also provided rehabilitated housing for homeowners in the community.

Two families who will own the homes celebrated along with local and state lawmakers attended the groundbreaking ceremony.

Charisse Rupert, one of the future homeowners at the site and participant in the East Lake Initiative, joined by her husband Willie Rupert, said “It’s not just the funding that Regions Foundation is providing, they’re investing in the East Lake Initiative, and the East Lake Initiative is investing in us, and we are investing back in our community.”