NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Surviving Nashville can be difficult as the massive growth continues.
Nashville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and has added 200,000 jobs since 2014. With that growth comes increased rent prices and real estate costs.
Metro Councilman Brett Withers represents East Nashville, one of the most diverse and fastest-growing areas of the city.
“In the state of Tennessee, there are some tools that other states have that we do not have, so in the state of Tennessee, we cannot do rent control. There are a lot of workplace protections that we can’t offer in our state,” he explained.
So, what can Metro government offer to help residents survive Nashville?
“There are a limited number of things that we can do,” Withers said. “All of our taxation authority comes through the state of Tennessee. There are tax freeze and tax relief programs.”
You must meet income qualifications to be eligible for the tax freeze and relief programs.
For elderly or Nashvillians with disabilities, Metro provides a low-cost transportation called “Access Ride.”
“We go above and beyond what we are required to by our state and federal requirements,” Withers said. “We offer it throughout the county. It is a very expensive service to provide, but for elderly or disabled folks who have difficulty getting to doctor’s appointments, grocery stores, things like that, they can schedule a ride.”
The Metro Development and Housing Administration can also help with housing costs.
“They provide funding for affordable housing directly, as well as, they have funding programs for veterans. In particular, there are heat and energy assistance programs,” he said.
The Metro Action Commission also provides a variety of services.
“Metro Action – a lot of people don’t understand what resources are there. There is sometimes rental assistance, utility bill assistance. It won’t pay your rent on a long-term basis, but it could help you make a down payment or if you are behind,” Withers said.
Maybe the biggest help coming to Nashville is Envision Cayce. It is the complete demolition of the 1930’s James A. Cayce Homes, which is government-subsidized low-income housing. The development is being replaced with new buildings for low- and middle-income residents.
“As we are rebuilding those housing units, we can include some in that mix for folks who are earning that sort of middle-income wage, which is a lot of people. They are awesome units by the way,” Withers said.
The federal government owns the Cayce Home property but is getting out of subsidized housing, so the property has been deeded to Metro-Nashville, and in turn, the city is replacing and re-purposing the Cayce Homes.
East Nashville is trendy, popular and hip, which makes it expensive.
“If you are a renter, it’s a real struggle though, and also if you are a first time home buyer, you’re a young person coming to Nashville with a lot of student loan debt, which a lot of young people do, it can be very, very difficult to do – to purchase a new home in East Nashville,” Withers said.
Though it’s tough and expensive, people still want to come to Nashville to live, so what else can the city do to help them survive?
“I am a big proponent of our public transit system, which a lot of people, I think a lot of native Nashvillians, look down on. A lot of folks who move here from other cities are used to having a more robust transit system. I really emphasize to people that you have to use it to convince anyone to reinvest in it or to invest more into it,” he said.
A real positive for East Nashville is more businesses are opening and new jobs are available.
“So a lot more people today are able to live, work, do their grocery shopping and everything within East Nashville,” Withers said. “What I hope people move to East Nashville for is for the sense of community.”
He continued, “It really is still a very vibrant and tight-knit community and it was those community relationships that sort of solved the problems that we had in the past. We are going to need those relationships to solve the new problems that we have today.”
News 2 is reporting on Nashville’s historic growth and the growing pains that come with it. Click here for more Nashville 2019 reports.