NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The average one bedroom apartment in Nashville is pricey, about $1,800 a month, according to Zumper.com. But there’s a new push to bring back an old idea—rent control.
If anyone’s had a front row seat to Nashville’s affordability crisis, it’s Lisa Wooley.
“Something’s got to change. Something has got to change,” said Wooley, executive director of Rooftop Nashville.
📧 Have breaking come to you: Subscribe to News 2 email alerts →
Wooley’s non-profit helps renters who have fallen on hard times stay in their apartments.
“For the homeless problem in Nashville to change, you’re going to have to back it up. And I don’t just mean with rapid rehousing, trying to get people into housing. You have to keep the people who are already in housing in their homes, and that requires several tools. And rent control could be one of them,” said Wooley.
But Wooley said rent control must allow landlords to make a living as well.
This year, Rooftop Nashville has received a staggering 2,000 applications. In total, more than $4 million has been requested in housing aid. The organization’s funds have allowed them to fulfill $560,508 of that $4 million, helping 218 households total.
But rising rents are not just a Nashville problem. In Knoxville, a group of renters formed a union to push back. And they are getting the attention of lawmakers like state Rep. Sam McKenzie.
“I really applaud the folks who are creating the union in the city of Knoxville just to start this conversation if nothing else to say, ‘let’s talk about what needs to happen.’ And to be honest, it begins at the state level, because the state put the hard line that says locals can not do anything to take a look at managing the rental prices,” said McKenzie.
In 2018, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 363, which banned rent control in Tennessee. McKenzie, a Democrat in a Republican supermajority, said he’s interested in putting rent control legislation back on the table.
“I get excited to think that our lawmakers are thinking in that direction. And I’m going to be hopeful because we have the resources in Tennessee to change this. They exist. We just have to have the will,” said Wooley.
Housing advocates say that in addition to rent control, landlords not starting the eviction process after one missed payment can also help tenants.