NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s a growing problem felt by many.
“Where the market is right now, between rents and homeownership it’s really, really challenging for people that need an affordable place to live,” said Metro Council Member Freddie O’Connell.
It’s a sentiment Metro Council Member Russ Pulley agrees with explaining the profile of those being priced out of Nashville has changed.
“Teachers, police officers, firefighters, those kinds of incomes that are about $50-$60,000 a year,” Pulley explained.
Fixing the issue is no easy math equation.
“We don’t have any capability to do rent control, or say you must have this many units that are, you know, area median income-based,” O’Connell said.
Add in spiking land values and it just doesn’t seem to add up.
“Price points can become problematic,” Pulley admitted.
There’s hope that an influx of money from the federal government, as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, may help infuse a budget that otherwise seems barren.
“That’s a lot of money, $260 million that’s been given to us for COVID relief,” Pulley said.
Tuesday night, Metro Council voted to appropriate $40.2 million to be used for affordable housing.
“Effectively,” Pulley explained, “that will buy us 2,000 units.”
Even still, the foundation of the issue is more than just funding.
“It’s very difficult to have a citywide conversation about where do you put this because when you really dig into it, and you try to create affordable housing even on the edge of a neighborhood or on a corridor, you will still find that a lot of people are like, we don’t want something like that there. Who’s going to live there?” O’Connell said.
As for Pulley’s district in Green Hills, he said, “My constitutes don’t like height. If a developer buys that prime commercial property off of Hillsboro Pike, they can’t afford it without [taller buildings] going up.”
The complicated issue will require creative calculations and constructive conversations which is why $20 million of the proposed funds are earmarked for a separate fund.
“That catalyst fund is especially for that purpose,” Pulley said. “So we can target people and organizations that can help us in the process of securing land and developers to marry up.”