Cities across the U.S. have seen evictions surge in recent years. Yet as Nashville’s rents keep rising, the city’s eviction numbers are falling—at least the figures the city tracks.
It seems strange that as it costs more to live in Nashville, evictions are the lowest they’ve been since the Great Recession.
Even the city’s senior advisor on affordable housing, Adriane Bond Harris, says she wasn’t aware of the trend before WPLN presented her with the data.
“The numbers were surprising to me,” Harris says. “I think what it shows is that there has been great economic success over time.”
In other words, more people can pay their rent these days.
Over the past decade, evictions have dropped by 10 percent from a peak of more than 1,700, or about 5 per day, according to the Davidson County Sherriff’s Department.
But Harris says eviction numbers are just a fraction of the story.
“Displacement is one of those [things] that we know it’s happening, we just don’t know to what degree,” she adds.
In Nashville, entire neighborhoods are being reshaped with more high end housing. This means that average and low-income folks are being pushed out in all sorts of ways.
Paulette Coleman, who heads the affordable housing taskforce, NOAH, Nashville Organized for Action and Hope, explains the drop this way.
“The reason it doesn’t surprise me,” she says, “is there are mechanisms for displacement other than evictions.”
One example is East Nashville’s Howe Garden Apartments. A developer bought the 165-unit complex in January. Soon after, residents got word that rents were being doubled or their leases were being terminated, giving them weeks to move out.
Yes, dozens of residents were displaced, but they were not technically evicted, leaving them just out of the reach of any official figures.
“That is a very difficult spot we are in right now,” Harris says about gathering data of displacement. “We are trying to pinpoint what the actual needs are of Nashville.”
Harris and her team are in the midst of developing a comprehensive housing plan that will, in part, attempt to capture how many affordable units have been lost in the frenzy of development, and what the city can do to fill the gap.