GROWTH by NCRC and the City of Birmingham Sign $25 Million Agreement, Start with Building Homes in Ensley Neighborhood

Oak Hill project in Birmingham’s historic Ensley neighborhood is designed to provide opportunities for building generational wealth and community revitalization.

The City of Birmingham, in partnership with The NCRC Housing Rehab Fund, LLC (NCRC HRF), known as GROWTH by NCRC, signed a $25 million development deal that will begin with building affordable new homes in the historic Ensley neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama. The new Oak Hill project, located near 51st Street Ensley and Avenue K, will feature 28 detached, single-family homes ranging from 1,227-1,350 square feet.       

At the height of Birmingham’s iron production, Ensley was a booming neighborhood known for its industrial development and world-class steel production. Once the heart and soul of Birmingham, the neighborhood was home to Tuxedo Junction, a bustling district with a thriving nightlife.   

Due to the decline of the steel industry in the 1970s, many of the once-famous plants closed. Ensley went from a strong working-class neighborhood of 40,000 residents to less than 4,000.  

The City of Birmingham and GROWTH by NCRC have committed to revitalizing the area through investment in new home construction. 

“The City of Birmingham is proud to partner with GROWTH by NCRC on Oak Hill, in order to make our vision of community reinvestment a reality,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin. “Oak Hill offers high-quality homeownership opportunities to a well-deserving community that has weathered through economic challenges. The Ensley neighborhood is ripe for this kind of project. My hope is that by adding affordable new homes, we will generate opportunities for wealth-building, community engagement and neighborhood revitalization.”

GROWTH by NCRC provides homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income communities and people, with a focus on communities of color. In five years, GROWTH has invested in almost 800 homes nationwide. GROWTH by NCRC also provides workforce development and housing counseling through local partnerships with community organizations in the areas they serve.

“We are a mission-driven real estate fund helping to make homeownership possible for working-class and BIPOC people across the country,” said Ed Gorman, Managing Director, the NCRC Housing Rehab Fund. “We are honored to partner with the City of Birmingham on the Oak Hill project. Working together we are focused on addressing decades of redlining and disinvestment, bringing affordable housing and community development throughout the area. Everyone deserves a fair shake at the American Dream of homeownership.”

The Oak Hill project marks a major milestone in community revitalization. Partnering with GROWTH, the City of Birmingham is working to create pathways to capital essential for neighborhood investment, redevelopment, and new home construction. Decades of neglect and a history of redlining, historically limited mortgage and financial services to communities of color, putting home and business ownership beyond the reach of local residents and denying investment opportunities in the historic neighborhood.  

The project will also feature an agreement with the Birmingham Construction Industry Authority to maximize opportunities for minority and women-owned enterprises and veteran-owned small businesses to participate in the development and construction of Oak Hill. Providing local businesses and residents with employment opportunities is a mission shared by all of the partners.

The project is slated to break ground this month with the first closings taking place in late 2021.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

Complete the form to download the full report: