The city’s high numbers of residents suffering from chronic illness and chronic homelessness were underscored by the recent deaths of three residents, including a mother, who had lived in a hotel.
“This is the highest rate of residents in Birmingham that we’ve seen,” said John Daugherty, executive director of the Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce.
The city of Birmingham has more than 1,100 homeless residents, and about 100 percent of them are African-American.
In the first quarter of 2018, Birmingham had 2,876 people living in hotels and motels.
The number of people sleeping on the streets of the city also rose.
According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40 percent of the people in Alabama who have chronic illnesses are Black.
But as the city struggles with its housing crisis and its poverty rate, many residents are asking why it’s taking so long to address their concerns.
According of the report, only about 5 percent of those who were chronically homeless in Birmingham were homeless within two years of being homeless.
The rest were living on the street or in transitional housing, said Daughey.
The report also said the average homeless person in the city of about 300 has a job and the majority are adults.
Some of the problems are related to the fact that some residents have been living on streets for years, said John Williams, president of the Alabama Housing Coalition.
“You’ve got a lot of people who are going through some sort of transition, and they don’t know what to do, and you don’t really know what your options are,” Williams said.
“They are just so disconnected.”
But that disconnect is only growing, and it’s creating new problems.
According, in 2017, just under 6,000 Birmingham residents were living in temporary shelters or transitional housing.
That figure rose to nearly 8,500 in 2018.
In 2018, about 12,000 people were in transitional homes, which have become a popular option for some residents, but are often difficult to access for those living in a housing emergency.
Williams said many residents have difficulty finding jobs and that they are unable to make rent.
“It’s a huge concern,” Williams added.
The majority of the housing crisis is related to homelessness, but it’s also affecting other areas of the economy, like the Birmingham area’s hospitals.
Hospitals have struggled with high numbers and high costs of care as they have been forced to close, said Jim McDonough, the president of The Birmingham Hospital Association.
“There are a lot more of those things happening in Birmingham,” he said.
But in some areas, such as downtown Birmingham, there are still good jobs.
The American Hospital Association’s Alabama Healthcare Workforce Development and Employment Survey found that the metro area had the highest unemployment rate in the state of Alabama.
But that was before recent legislation that made it easier for companies to hire, train and retain people in the area.
According a survey conducted by the state’s Department of Labor, nearly two-thirds of workers in the metro region were unemployed as of the end of the first half of 2018.
The Birmingham area also had the fourth highest unemployment among counties with a population of 500,000 or more, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The median income in the Birmingham metro area was $51,564, according the most recent figures available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But unemployment in the community dropped from 9.4 percent to 8.7 percent over the same period, according Toensing.
The metro area also ranked as the most expensive to live in in Alabama in 2018, according a study conducted by RealtyTrac.
Birmingham ranked as having the third highest housing costs, with an average of $1,717 per square foot in the Uptown area and $2,071 per square feet in the Outer Loop area.
The cost of a new home in Birmingham averaged $5,724, according Realty Trac.
However, Realty said the price of new homes in the Inner Loop had dropped significantly, from $1.4 million to $1 million.