Auburn University forms partnership with City of Selma

Published 1:41 pm Friday, May 10, 2024

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Auburn University is partnering with several Selma businesses to help bring affordable housing into the Queen City.

Through its Rural Studio Front Porch Initiative and University Outreach, Auburn is working with the City of Selma planning and development department, Selma Housing Authority, Black Belt Community Foundation and Alabama Cooperative Extension System to develop sustainable, affordable and high-performance housing.

A $1 million grant came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and matching funds from Regions Bank, Wells Fargo, Auburn’s Office of the Provost, University Outreach, ACES and the College of Architecture, Design and Construction.

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“Bringing together partners from across the state and region to work with the city in addressing the housing shortage will help position Selma for a strong future and respond to growth opportunities,” City of Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. said.

The team will work to gather community input, develop a strategic plan, design and implement a demonstration project and provide community support and education.   

“This grant is an important starting point to create a network of supporters who are invested in long-term planning for the City of Selma,” said Auburn President Christopher B. Roberts. “This collaboration across Auburn’s campus and with local, state and national partners will help address the immediate crisis caused by significant storm damage, as well as more persistent challenges in the city.” 

The Front Porch Initiative was created by Rural Studio’s place-based housing research with a goal to develop affordable, high-performance homes.

“The Front Porch Initiative advances our shared goals of alleviating housing disparities by focusing on affordability, accessibility and recovery, but also celebrates the importance of partnerships to small rural communities impacted by disaster and disadvantage,” City of Selma planning and development director Danielle Wooten said.

The Front Porch Initiative has 15 partners across seven states.

“We are excited to work in partnership with Selma to address critical housing needs,” said Mackenzie Stagg, project lead and Front Porch Initiative research faculty. “We believe that increasing equitable access to high-performance homes is key to community resilience. We strive to provide resources and increase capacity to underserved and overburdened communities throughout the Southeast, but having the opportunity to work in our home state and in important communities such as Selma is an honor.”