Housing experts weigh in on challenges in Nashville affordability

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Metro government study suggests in the next few years, Nashville could be more than 30,000 housing units short for the growing population.

But how do housing experts address those challenges realistically in an expensive market?

“The cost of land, the cost of building in Nashville is just off the chains right now,” President and CEO of The Housing Trust Marshall Crawford said.

Crawford says it’s all about supply and demand. But right now Nashville has a limited supply, but extremely high demand.

“We gotta figure out what’s the best way in preserving it so that it doesn’t get to a point where individuals are buying it at the highest price,” Crawford said.

After the Barnes Housing Trust funding was cut by thousands in Mayor John Cooper’s recent budget, Crawford says housing non-profits were concerned. Many of those organizations rely on that funding in order to subsidize development expenses to offer affordable rates on properties.

“Construction costs have gone up, labor and materials have all gone up,” Development Coordinator with Urban Housing Solutions Kevin Clavin said.

Clavin says over the last five years he’s seen a significant increase in working individuals that still struggle with making ends meet due to rising rents.

“20 years ago we were serving folks primarily experiencing homelessness, we’ve seen a rise in folks that are working,” Clavin said.

Metro Council member at large Burkley Allen says it’s been challenging to figure out how to make strides forward.

“On paper we have a plan for where to put those people, but the execution of building on those things and getting the transit system that we need to match that put in place have just been difficult,” Allen said.

Allen says the area median income for Nashville is around $56,000, but a single person should only be paying 30-percent of that towards rent. But it’s hard to find a one bedroom apartment in Nashville for less than $1,000, which tells her there’s a problem.

“You’re going to start seeing companies that are moving out of the metro Nashville area because their workforce can’t afford to live here,” Habitat for Humanity Senior VP of Philanthropy Lauren Lane Payne said.

Payne says the average family of four makes around $75,000. But if they’re paying too much for rent or mortgage payments, it causes the quality of living to decrease significantly.

Many are hoping efforts are made by government to restore the rest of the Barnes Housing Trust, but if not suggest Metro donates land specifically towards affordable housing purposes.

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