NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Even when the Windy City isn’t so windy, it’s not uncommon to find people who have been swept away by Nashville.
“Originally Chicago, Illinois, born and raised,” said Faith L. Walls. “I moved here in 2019, so it’s been a little over four years.”
Walls explained there were many reasons to come to Music City.
“It looked a little bit barren, and I think I had a little more hope moving here that I would be able to get out of public housing sooner, but that definitely has changed since then,” said Walls.
That “change” she is talking about is continuing to happen. However, those in her similar situation feel one thing has remained constant.
“I have two degrees from Howard University, a Bachelors in Psychology, and a Masters in Educational Administration. I have been a school administrator; I have lived abroad in Sweden and done research, and I am in public housing,” Walls said. “I just want to move somewhere where there’s a bathtub. You know, kids deserve to get baths at night; that’s like a dream of a lot of parents to bathe their kids. That’s not happening here.”
Nashville residents have been feeling the effects of a competitive housing market. Between the surge of home prices and rising rent, it has left many with few options.
“The other places where we see gentrification happening, those places like Chicago, your Denvers, they have already been established, and in a place like Nashville where things are so barren, they have the ability to build it up and out at the same time, so it’s really impacting us in a way that 10 years from now I don’t know. I hope I’m not living in public housing. I have that hope. I have that faith,” said Walls.
According to the latest report from the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA), the agency reported 2,725 new affordable housing units went under construction, and 30,000 Nashvillians were housed.
It’s no secret housing in Nashville is expensive, and Black renters and homeowners are feeling the brunt of the problem. The organization Standup Nashville said nationally 65% of Section 8 voucher holders are Black or Hispanic.
“Crisis is the best descriptive word. I mean even here on this map,” Odessa Kelly said. “All of these dark areas and those red areas are people who are cost burden as far as their home.”
Standup Nashville has been advocating for affordable housing; they’ve noticed specific areas like The Nations, East Bank, and South Nashville.
“Once we start to address all the strings attached to why we’re even here to classify something as affordable versus market-rate housing, that’s when we’re getting to the solution of really fixing the problem here,” Kelly said. “We have affordable housing where it’s one or two bedrooms, studio apartments, right? You have families out here who need three-bedroom apartments, real two-bedroom apartments, or four-bedroom apartments. That is workforce and affordable housing.”
The Metro Housing Division is submitting an application to HUD for Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing). The application is available for review and comment through Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 11 p.m.
Standup Nashville has created a series entitled, “Home is Where You Can Afford It”, going into detail about the current status of housing in Music City.
There will be two public meetings on Wednesday, Oct. 11 – an 11:30 a.m. virtual public meeting, and a 5:30 p.m. in-person meeting. Click here for more information.