Looking back on 2020.
This time last year, I certainly could not have anticipated what was to come in the next 12 months. The pandemic, which continues to grow, has had lasting effects on each and every one of us. I must acknowledge our team and their commitment to pushing the Authority forward through this time. Our small staff, which has been great at overcoming internal and external obstacles over the last 3 years, has risen to the numerous additional challenges that the pandemic has introduced.
We thank the leadership of our board of directors and the continued partnership of our citizen, non-profit and for-profit partners that are working to complete projects throughout the City of Birmingham. Operations could not have continued over this past year without the commitment of BLBA counsel, Circuit Judges Ballard, Blankenship and Smitherman, Jefferson County Tax Collector, Assessor and Probate Court, the Alabama Department of Revenue, the City of Birmingham and numerous others that play a role working with the BLBA to facilitate the clearing of title to problem properties.
Facing challenges that seem insurmountable at times, each member of our team greatly appreciates that these challenges inspire growth, adaptability and resiliency. I am proud of our team and look forward to more successes as we continue to work toward increased collaboration and coordination across departmental lines at the City of Birmingham to play our part in the revitalization of our Birmingham Neighborhoods.
We will release our Annual Report at the beginning of February. If you have not already, please read the information below for some background on the Birmingham Land Bank Authority. We encourage you to stay engaged and check our website frequently. As we enter a new year, we are excited at all of the opportunities that await Birmingham.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Administrator, Birmingham Land Bank Authority
Join us this Wednesday at 12:00pm for a BLBA Year in Review/ FAQ Session. We will discuss BLBA activities over the past 12, 24 and 36 months and answer frequently asked questions.
Our goal is, through our programming and our outreach, to spark conversation and increased interest in neighborhood revitalization.
Birmingham has experienced an extended period of population decline and disinvestment. The problem is exhibited by the large number of abandoned and tax delinquent properties throughout areas west of I-65, North of 20/59 and in our Eastern areas.
Heir property with clouded title and property owned by tax lien speculators or absentee landowners make up a large portion of these problem properties.
It is exacerbated by the fact that many of our absentee property owners recognize that there is a lack of any significant consequence to allowing their properties to sit and deteriorate in Birmingham’s neighborhoods.
Many people obtain tax interests in problem properties with the hopes that they will rehabilitate and improve many of these problem properties. Unfortunately, having only a tax interest in a property is often insufficient to meet needs of parties interested in improving their neighborhoods. To obtain financing, land use approvals from the local governing body and fee simple ownership, an action to quiet title to the subject property is generally required.
The Birmingham Land Bank Authority(BLBA) takes tax delinquent properties (that have been in the State’s inventory for 5 years or more), clears the title, and allows eligible parties to purchase them, with development agreements in place, in order to facilitate development and improvement of problem properties in our neighborhoods.
We collaborate with citizens, non-profits, business, municipal departments, and other agencies to remove blight, increase property values, and ultimately strengthen our neighborhoods by returning tax delinquent property back into productive use.
The BLBA, a public corporation, is the first municipal land bank to incorporate and operate under Alabama’s laws that heavily favor the prior owner. Over the last five years, the BLBA has crafted a program that has involved coordinating various entities including the Alabama Department of Revenue, Jefferson County, Jefferson County Circuit Courts, Probate Court, City of Birmingham, attorneys and title insurance companies.
The title clearing process has been very successful and we anticipate clearing title to our 500th tax delinquent property by the end of 2020.
The properties that we process aren’t meant to just be sold and held only to be sold again with no investment. We are building a program in which we enter into partnerships with citizens, non-profits and developers that plan to invest, as soon as possible, in improvements to our neighborhoods. The BLBA extinguishes municipal liens and assessments and expends a considerable amount of staff time and resources with the understanding that the purchaser will not simply pay taxes, but improve the property and return the property to being an asset for the community. The City of Birmingham allows its municipal liens and assessments (funds that they have already expended to maintain and/or demolish structures) to be extinguished is a significant investment in the efforts to push neighborhood revitalization.
With thousands of problem properties sitting in the City of Birmingham, the problem can seem overwhelming. Increased support and collaboration between municipal leaders, other public and nonprofit agencies, the private sector, and citizens is key to tackling these problems. Our partners show us in many of their projects that what many dismiss as a total loss can be brought back to life with focus and time.
Every property that the land bank conveys to a new responsible owner is a property that the City of Birmingham no longer has to maintain and one that generates tax revenue for the city.
Citizens, nonprofits and developers are coming back into Birmingham and seeking to invest and revitalize our neighborhoods.
We are proud to play our part in efforts to revitalize Birmingham’s neighborhoods.
To learn more, visit our website at www.birminghamlandbank.org.