Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa is known for building new homes and repairing existing homes. You may have seen the beautiful neighborhood of mostly Habitat homes built on Juanita Drive in the Alberta community. Prior to the tornado, Juanita Drive was the center of much of the criminal activity in the City of Tuscaloosa. Now, it is a place where neighbors know one another and children play together outside.
Habitat Tuscaloosa plans to build a new neighborhood in West End and has 40 lots currently owned by Barr Realty under contract. Twenty-six of the lots contiguous (see attached diagrams). If we can acquire these lots, 40 families will have the opportunity to become Habitat homeowners, purchasing their homes at fair market value through 0% interest, 30 year mortgages, and at least 250 hours of each homeowner's labor.
However, through a new, innovative program called Operation Transformation, Habitat Tuscaloosa will utilize these construction sites to train students of the construction trades from the Tuscaloosa Career and Technology Academy (TCTA), and to teach construction skills to young non-violent offenders returning to society from incarceration through a partnership with the non-profit Dannon Project. Among Dannon Project participants in other communities, the recidivism rate is cut from 67 .8% to less than 5%. It is our hope that those who participate in Operation Transformation from the TCTA and the Dannon Project will provide a steady stream of students for the new Skilled Trades of West Alabama training center, and will help our community build and expand in residential and commercial construction for generations to come.
After a hiatus due to COVID-19, Habitat Tuscaloosa plans to continue its partnership with the TCTA as electrical students fully wire a "smart house" in spring 2021. The Dannon Project plans to begin sending participants around the same time depending on COVID-19 precautions. Other community partners include the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, the Tuscaloosa City and County governments, the Builders Group, GAF, Alabama Power, and several others.
Here are three of the many benefits of this program. First, 40 low income individuals and families will have the opportunity to build generational assets and stability through Habitat home ownership and will have a safe, affordable place to live. Over 90% of Habitat homeowners are employed, so most of these homes will be affordable, work force housing. Second, youth and young adults will be trained in high-demand construction job skills and trades desperately needed in the local market and beyond. In some cases, this job training will offer a viable alternative to a previous life of crime, and turn individuals who would have been a drain on society into tax-paying citizens. Third, one of Tuscaloosa's geographically identified "Racially or Ethnically Concentrated Areas of Poverty" will receive an influx of high quality, affordable, owner-occupied Habitat homes. With the influx of new homes and residents, the likelihood that new businesses - grocery stores, restaurants, shops, etc. - will move into the area is much greater. These businesses also will provide employment opportunities to nearby residents. The City of Tuscaloosa has targeted the area in which these lots are located for revitalization.
To make Operation Transformation a reality, Habitat Tuscaloosa needs to raise $200,000 to acquire the Barr Realty property. We hope you will seriously consider joining our partnership by donating generously toward the property purchase. Everything we hope to accomplish hinges on raising these funds.
The lots in green are under contract.
Please Join Our List of Committed Partners of Operation Transformation:
Alabama Power Foundation
Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama
City of Tuscaloosa
Home Builders Association of Tuscaloosa
Jackson Security Services
Premier Service Company
Skilled Trades of West Alabama
Tuscaloosa Career and Technology Academy
Tuscaloosa City Schools
Tuscaloosa County Commission