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Regions Foundation, Bessemer community leaders unveil breakthrough in affordable housing ‘one block at a time’

On Wednesday, community leaders and residents lined up around the block of three new modern homes in Bessemer’s Northside neighborhood to witness a milestone that has been a long time coming for those involved in the area’s vitality and growth.

The Bessemer Redevelopment Corporation, the Regions Foundation, state lawmakers, city officials and a host of community partners celebrated completion of the homes that represent a series of new investments in the neighborhood.

“The redevelopment of the Northside community of Bessemer has been a massive team effort that began four years ago,” Brian Giattina, president of the Bessemer Redevelopment Corporation Board of Directors, said during an emotional speech as he thanked his supportive local partners and family members. “This is not necessarily about the three houses that you have in front of you. This is about the neighbors, the community, and the people that have been a part of this community for 50 plus years, giving them what they rightfully deserve.”

“We could not have done it without the support of the Regions Foundation and others. It took a team that could trust the Bessemer Redevelopment Corporation and see our long-term vision for Bessemer. Our community partnership with the Regions Foundation is a critical element to our future success,” Giattina said.

For years, Northside was challenged by disinvestment, abandoned homes, empty lots, and more. But that trend is being reversed with the Bessemer Redevelopment Corporation organizing perhaps the largest effort in generations.

(Regions Foundation/Contributed)

Construction of the three houses was financed in part by a $150,000 grant from the Regions Foundation, which leads economic and community development initiatives across metro Birmingham and beyond. The Regions Foundation is a nonprofit funded primarily by Regions Bank.

“Today’s milestone is not only about celebrating new homes – it’s about recognizing how the Bessemer Redevelopment Corporation has a long-term commitment toward investing in this community,” said Marta Self, executive director of the Regions Foundation.

“These investments are providing affordable housing for more families while bringing new vitality to the Northside neighborhood. The Regions Foundation is proud to support this work because we see the results that are being created, one block at a time.”

Two state legislators, State Sen. Merika Coleman and State Rep. Ontario Tillman, spoke on Wednesday to say the new homes represent a larger moment for the communities they represent — and the buzzing optimism is well deserved by those involved.

(Regions Foundation/Contributed)

“Please take the opportunity to go through this house. I looked at it, I was like, ‘Well, I wonder if I can actually put a bid on this house myself,’” State Sen. Coleman (D-Birmingham) said. “Come on, this would be amazing. All the way from home, right down the street from my law firm, and the courthouse and in the heart of Senate District 19.”

The prefabricated homes along the 2600-block of 6th Avenue North are part of the Northside Community Housing Development Initiative. The focus of the Bessemer Redevelopment Corporation goes beyond high-quality housing to include investments in public spaces, sidewalks, streetlights and other community assets. The group also seeks to support commercial development and community neighborhood anchor projects to complement the new housing that is replacing vacant Northside lots.

Prospective homebuyers have two key options to explore securing a new Northside home: Those seeking down-payment assistance from the Bessemer Redevelopment Corporation can apply via Neighborhood Housing Services of Birmingham. Clients not seeking down-payment assistance may contact a lender of their choice to prequalify for financing.

Grayson Everett is the state and political editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270

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