Nashville is looking for fresh ways to deal with its lack of affordable housing. And its newest idea uses a $25 million loan to rehab, buy or build new housing. It sounds straightforward, but there’s one catch: The city has to stay on and manage the units.
In recent years, the solution to a city’s affordable housing crisis has been to hand it off private developers — luring them in with local and federal tax credits. But this new concept is one that puts units back into the hands of the local government.
In other words, whatever property this $25 million is used for, it’s OK only "if Metro owns it and if Metro maintains it," says Adriane Bond Harris, the city’s senior advisor on affordable housing.
Harris says the new approach could help curb one scenario that’s been repeating itself across the city: developers buying up apartment complexes that were once affordable, pushing out tenants, rehabbing them and upping the rent.
She says the hope is that the money can be used, for example, "to purchase some of these existing apartment complexes or ... construct new affordable housing units on Metro-owned property."
And while Nashville has the money to spend, not much else about the initiative has been ironed out — though they could look to other cities, like Austin, Texas, which are experimenting with the same concept.
Harris says her team will spend the summer asking residents of all sorts — young, old, working and unemployed — what kind of housing is needed most and where.
A recent report on low-income housing shows the city is short more than 30,000 units.