2018 is going to be a big year for public housing. Nashville will be renovating, or planning renovations, for four public housing developments — The James Cayce homes in East Nashville, the Edgehill Homes in South Nashville and the JC Napier and Sudekum apartments, just south of downtown. All together they're home to about 5,000 people.
It’s all part of the city's massive public housing overhaul. Thousands of apartments will be torn down and rebuilt to house a mixture of lower and higher income renters. It's the city's most ambitious housing makeover in more than half a century.
The James Cayce homes is the farthest along in the process, breaking ground a few weeks ago on its first mixed income building.
Experts say the sweeping renovations is a chance to finally fix Nashville's crumbling public housing and make good on its promise to give its low-income residents a safe, decent, affordable place to live.
"Now is an opportunity to create something that is positive for folks that may not have enjoyed the luxuries that more affluent populations in this city experience," says James Fraser, a professor at Vanderbilt University who studies housing policy. "There are no more excuses. We can make good decisions that support our brothers and sisters who are low-income or no income."
And the financing is also new. The city is relying on a government program called RAD — or Rental Assistance Demonstration. A newer federal policy that transfers ownership of the property from the federal government to local agencies, allowing them to take out loans on the property.
Across the city the project's price tag will likely run in the billions. Renovating James Cayce, for example, is expected to cost upwards of $700 million and take close to a decade to complete.