Center for the study of community health
Birmingham United Neighborhoods
Birmingham United Neighborhoods (BUN) is a coalition of 8 neighborhoods, working with the UAB Center for the Study of Community Health since 2017 when they collaborated on plans for the 2019–2024 core research project, CHEER. BUN provides input to guide CHEER, and 2 representatives from BUN serve on the Center’s community participation Board (JCCPB), which advises on all of the Center’s research, translation, training, and service activities.
In September 2018, the representatives of the 8 neighborhoods who had worked with the Center decided to establish themselves as Birmingham United Neighborhoods, with a mission to improve neighborhood health through collaborative partnerships and projects. Rather than work separately on neighborhood issues, BUN decided to work collectively as a demonstration project to improve neighborhoods across the city. During a January 2019 strategic planning session led by Clarus Consulting, BUN identified environmental blight as its highest priority.
BUN has met monthly since 2018, when it established bylaws, officers, and standing committees. BUN incorporated in 2021 and has 501(c)(3) status. In addition to CHEER, BUN has applied for and received funding from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, the Jefferson County Health Advised Fund, and the Center’s Community Health Scholars program for Magic City Blight Busters, a project to address abandoned and deteriorated homes, overgrown lots, and litter, “a plague identified as the greatest detriment to the health of neighborhoods.” Magic City Blight Busters (MCBB) will energize and coordinate residents to adopt areas for clean–up and maintenance. The Blight Mobile will swoop in on overgrown lots to pick up trash, cut weeds/brush, and put faux windows/doors on abandoned houses. Residents will be empowered to use land bank policies and city code to revitalize their communities consistent with Framework Plans. After evaluating pilot interventions, MCBB will disseminate a toolbox of best practices, instructions, templates, and list of materials for any community to address blight.