Birmingham Revitalization Program Provides Safety, Security and Peace of Mind Public-private partnership brings FORTIFIED protection
An innovative public-private partnership is helping revitalize Birmingham's historic Northside neighborhoods with home improvements that will mean homeowners will be safe, dry and better prepared for severe weather. Today, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, Alabama Insurance Commissioner Mark Fowler, Protective Life Corporation President & CEO Rich Bielen and other community leaders were joined by Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) CEO Roy Wright to meet with residents and tour homes recently re-roofed to the FORTIFIED standard for resilient construction.
"Our Northside community has served our city well. It has been the battleground for the civil rights movement, the birthplace of many of our heroes and a place for families to live, love and grow," said Mayor Woodfin. "Together, with these amazing partners, we honor them by gathering up our resources to help make their homes a safe place of pride. My hope is that this is just the beginning of more partnerships and more support of our residents throughout Birmingham."
The Protecting Good: Strengthen, Repair, and Protect program combines funding from the Alabama Department of Insurance's Strengthen Alabama Homes (SAH) program and the City of Birmingham's Community Development Block Grant with seed money from Protective Life Corporation, allowing qualified homeowners to receive as much as $25,000 to repair their homes and install a new storm-resistant roof.
"Every family deserves a strong home that can withstand the severe weather it faces," said Wright. "By convening public and private programs, Protective and the City of Birmingham created a template that cities across the country can use to remove complexity, reduce barriers and help ensure their citizens are better prepared for the next storm."
More than 65 homes have been retrofitted to the FORTIFIED standard, a re-roofing method shown effective in reducing damage from winds up to 130 mph, and 100 more are slated for completion in 2023. Birmingham-based Protective, a national provider of life insurance, annuity and asset protection solutions, spearheaded the new program to support the communities around Protective Stadium in downtown Birmingham. The company worked with community partners to connect various grant programs and help address critical needs for these neighborhoods. The new program streamlines application processes and project management, so the group can work as a single provider, helping families renovate and re-roof homes in the Northside neighborhoods of Druid Hills, Fountain Heights, Norwood, Evergreen and Central City.
"It has been incredibly rewarding to see the Protecting Good program come to life for the greater benefit of our city and neighbors. Equally rewarding are the relationships Protective has built through this process. By establishing strong connections with other community-minded organizations, along with the residents in these neighborhoods, we have discovered new opportunities where we can be better neighbors and protectors of our community," said Bielen.
Since being established by the Legislature in 2011, Strengthen Alabama Homes has helped homeowners retrofit their homes to the FORTIFIED standard, making them better able to withstand severe weather. The standard is widely adopted in Alabama's coastal counties to protect against hurricane damage and is now increasingly used in communities in Central and North Alabama at risk of tornadoes. To date, more than 5,000 Alabama families have received funding from SAH.
"Through the Strengthen Alabama Homes program, we have been successful in making a difference in the lives of Alabamians who are most vulnerable to catastrophic storms," said Fowler. "Fortifying homes not only protects the lives of families and their most valuable investment, their home, but it also helps reduce the risk of loss to insurance companies. This helps create a healthy and sustainable insurance market. Ultimately, efforts like the Protecting Good Initiative create a more resilient Alabama."
Working as part of the Protecting Good collaborative team, Habitat for Humanity managed each of the 65 completed projects.
"Habitat's mission is to provide affordable housing solutions in partnership with low-to-moderate income families," said Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham CEO Charles Moore. "We are pleased to work in collaboration with the Northside community and the Protecting Good partners to provide FORTIFIED roofs to keep these families and homes safe and dry."
Homeowners in the Druid Hills, Fountain Heights, Norwood, Evergreen and Central City neighborhoods are eligible for the Protecting Good roof repair program and can get additional information by calling 205-996-0884.