Breaking down aspects of Nashville’s affordable housing crisis

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  • Evan Holladay is the founder and CEO of Holladay Ventures.

Most Nashvillian residents know we are experiencing an affordable housing crisis, and many have experienced it firsthand. Average rental costs have increased by about 50% over the past decade, and we’ve seen similar growth in home values.

These increases create an inability to find housing for those on the lower end of the income spectrum. It’s evident that Nashville is growing rapidly, but doesn’t have enough affordable housing to keep up with the influx into the city and the residents who have lived here for years.

I started Holiday Ventures having seen a need for budget friendly communities in this ever expanding city. Creating and investing in workforce, affordable and mixed-income communities goes hand-in-hand with our mission to create quality housing opportunities and empower residents to reach their full potential.

Understanding who is impacted by this crisis, embracing financing opportunities and creating new, innovative ways to build developments is crucial to solving this city’s affordable housing shortage.

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Misunderstandings about affordable housing

Many assume that affordable housing brings crime and negative traits to a neighborhood, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Families in affordable housing have no more criminal tendencies than other households.

In Nashville, rising housing costs are driving many teachers, construction workers, and other employees out of town where their services are needed. Studies show the median teacher salary in public schools in Nashville costs $56,473and the The average salary of a construction worker is $35,739.

Affordable income brackets are typically $35,460 for an individual and $67,440 for a family of four. They want what every family wants – a safe place to live.

People also argue that affordable housing will negatively affect the value of other nearby properties, but this claim is also false. Construction teams for affordable housing and multi-purpose developments are subject to the same construction standards as commercial projects. Houses sell just as quickly and at the same price as in any other area.

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Solutions to the affordable housing crisis

Everyone deserves to have comfortable living space at their disposal, but unfortunately not every developer and landlord has this priority. To face this crisis, we need more developers who are passionate about building projects with a larger purpose. Strong and creative leadership is necessary to successfully engage the public and overcome barriers to creating affordable housing.

The economic disruption caused by COVID-19 has only exacerbated pre-pandemic housing affordability challenges. Responding to Nashville’s affordability crisis will require the focused attention of policymakers and the deployment of significant resources well beyond the amounts allocated for housing assistance. The Barnes Fund, for example, provides grants to increase the proportion of affordable housing in Nashville. But we need to generate significantly more additional funding for affordable housing if we are to truly address Nashville’s affordable housing crisis.

Creative partnerships are something Nashville should leverage to offer affordable housing options. We must remember that partnerships should be carefully designed to benefit each partner.

For example, Shelby House is a redevelopment project consisting of a mixed-use affordable housing unit and substance abuse recovery center for the nonprofit Samaritan Recovery Community in East Nashville. Our team at Holladay Ventures, along with Evergreen Real Estate, are in a unique position to support our local non-profit partner in providing an improved housing journey for individuals making the transition from rehabilitation to affordable housing.

A shared vision, shared risks and a cultivated partnership contribute to a successful result.

Future of affordable housing in Nashville

Affordable housing has received much more attention since the pandemic and has become a bipartisan initiative. The Barnes Fund has nearly doubled to $40 million and received record contributions this year, and we’ll see more funding and support for affordable housing in the years to come.

On the development side, we’ll see architects and designers come up with more creative solutions to solving the housing crisis as Nashville grows and infrastructure struggles to cope.

Acknowledging ongoing innovation helps indicate the directions and pathways that should be followed to improve housing affordability. Affordable housing is possible in our city, but we will continue to face hurdles until more investors, developers and policy leaders take action on the problem at hand.

Evan Holladay is the founder and CEO of Holladay Ventures.

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