City of Mobile CDBG Funding
Mobile, Ala. -- The City of Mobile is introducing a will program to reduce blight and revitalize neighborhoods. Facilitated by Legal Services of Alabama, LLC, the "leaving a legacy" program will provide wills, free of charge, to those who qualify.
As this program continues, the City will require that all housing assistance applicants have a will in place by the time of assistance. The goal is to have as many residents with wills as possible.
Without a will, many homes are left with no clear owner and become an heir property — a property that has been inherited by relatives of the last property owner. Heir property is one of the greatest contributing factors to blight in any medium-to-large size city, Mobile included. These types of properties are often not transferred properly, or are transferred to multiple heirs.
This is particularly a problem when the heirs include multiple generations, and are out-of-state, causing the home to become forgotten, abandoned and unmaintained. These properties lead to higher tax defaults and deferred maintenance costs that put the property at risk for demolition.
"We want to leave a legacy, not a burden," said Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson. "This program ensures the multi-generational loss of wealth is not passed down to future generations. It is one more piece to the puzzle to restoring our historic neighborhoods and leads us farther on the path to becoming to becoming the safest, most business and family-friendly city."
The city awarded the grant to Legal Services Alabama’s Mobile office. Ann Brown, Managing Attorney, said the office is very excited to be awarded the grant.
One of the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina was the large amount of ‘heir property,’ land in Mobile City,” Brown said. “Heir property is conveyed without a will from one generation to the next, and as a result, many residents whose homes were destroyed, could not qualify for FEMA or other federal home rebuilding grants because they could not prove clear title to their land.”
The grant will provide funding for a new staff attorney, which Brown said, fills a need for the kind of services the grant will provide. “We definitely see the need for providing this kind of service to the Mobile City residents to help eliminate and educate families about ‘heir property’ issues,” Brown said. “Dru Clark has been selected to head-up this initiative. Dru comes with experience, as she worked on a similar project while employed with LSA in Birmingham, and begins her work on Sept. 18.”
Jaffe Pickett, Resource Development Director, who is serving as Interim Executive Director, wrote the proposal to the City of Mobile, and stated:
“LSA is pleased for the opportunity to bring these essential legal services as well as the critical education and outreach services to the communities in Mobile.”