B’ham church & neighbors fight back against blight

Birmingham church leads the way in cleaning up blight

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A Birmingham pastor is working to revive the westside community around his church but he says one property is standing in the way.

Pastor Dr. Patrick Sellers says an empty home on Maple Ave SW which sits across from his church, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, is rodent infested, unsecured and his efforts to get it cleaned up over the years have not worked.

“All the windows are knocked out. You’ll see the doors are not secure,” said Sellers.

Sellers said the condition of the home and several others like it is standing in the way of the church’s effort to revive the neighborhood.

He said he’s tried for years to get the owner to clean it up.

“The landowners don’t live in the community and they’ll leave properties in such a bad condition,” said Sellers.

He said his church raised thousands of dollars to buy homes.

“Off land bank, tax sale properties, and we’re buying them up and as we acquired the titles, we are demolishing the properties if it’s not able to be refurbished,” explained Sellers.

Sellers’ church is in Riley, a historically black community that has stood for more than 145 years and he isn’t the only one wanting to see it restored.

“We love our neighborhood,” said neighbor Beverly Ochuba.

The Neighborhood Association met Tuesday to discuss applying for grants to improve the area.

“UAB has a grant and their going to try to come out to clean some of the overgrown lots and keep it done for at least a year,” said Ochuba.

Ochuba said the home on Maple Avenue home has been a long-standing eyesore.

“If you’re not going to fix it up, sell it! Why leave it here?” said Ochuba.

We called the owner of the home. Our calls went to voicemail but we were not able to leave a message because the mailbox was full. We had not heard back from the owner by the time this article was written.

We have reached out to the city for information about the property. A city spokesperson said homes can be reported to the city by calling 311 for an inspector to view the property and figure out the cities options.

Since 2018, the city has torn down hundreds of neglected homes.

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