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Case Study

Grant-Funded Housing Revitalization

Fairfield, AL


Fairfield is a historic community southwest of Birmingham, developed by U.S. Steel as a master-planned company town. They retain some steel industry, but plant closures and significant declines in production decimated jobs and depleted the city’s tax base from the 1970s through the early 2000s. Today, Fairfield encompasses two economically distressed census tracts with 23% of its 10,000 residents in poverty. Although Fairfield faces economic challenges, the city benefits from the presence of Miles College, an historic four-year liberal arts college and HBCU which has experienced rising enrollments and growth in fundraising in recent years.

In 2021, OPAL partnered with the Miles College Community Development Corporation (MCCDC), a nonprofit corporation dedicated to building equitable and healthy communities within Fairfield, to advance its efforts to eliminate blight in the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to Miles College. During CGA, OPAL worked with MCCDC and helped to write and submit a successful $250,000 grant application. This funding will help MCCDC purchase properties, clear titles, and prepare lots for redevelopment with residential units priced affordably for local residents.

“The work that OPAL does associated with Opportunity Zones in Alabama is itself remarkable. Beyond that, the OPAL team is proactive in communities experiencing distress or economic challenges. The OPAL staff members are resourceful thinkers, excellent community facilitators, and amazing writers who listen to the communities they serve. They then translate the results into coherent, successful documents and applications. We are beneficiaries of their commitment and skills.”

Patricia Hoban-Moore | Director of MCCDC