“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” John Howard Payne, Home! Sweet Home!
In the United States, there is an expectation that everyone will have the opportunity to live in a decent and affordable home, in a safe community that promotes opportunity and a better quality of life.
Families in poverty often do not achieve this expectation. As Middle Tennessee becomes more of a hub, the cost of living is increasing dramatically. Securing housing can be a financial burden for many low- and moderate-income families.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition Tennessee Results, the fair market rent for a two bedroom apartment in Middle Tennessee is $729 per month. A household must earn $2,431 monthly or $29,171 annually in order to spend 30% or less of their income on housing. That would equate to 77 hours of work per week for a Middle Tennessee resident who earns minimum wage ($7.25/hour).
A group of Vanderbilt graduate students in the Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership in the Professions acknowledged the issue and chose to do a project on affordable housing. They concluded that 37 percent of homeowners and 55 percent of renters in Nashville are paying too much for housing to keep their finances stable. (The Tennessean)
Nashville has been criticized for ignoring affordable housing options such as forcing developers to include housing for low-income families. Central Nashville neighborhoods where working-class families used to live such as 12South, Germantown, and East Nashville have dramatically increased in price. These families are forced into less expensive areas such as Antioch and North Nashville. “You push those families to the outer ring, the edges of your city,” said Vanderbilt professor Claire Smrekar. “When you think about other elements, like gasoline, you start to lose some of that economic base because people can’t afford to live, work and thrive in the city.” (The Tennessean)
The Housing Fund is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization projects. It assists low- and moderate-income families in purchasing, rehabilitating, or constructing homes and has served over 3,000 first-time homebuyers since opening in 1996. The Housing Fund offers many loan programs to meet needs specific to families, and has provided more than $400,000,000 in financing to more than 4,300 units. In the past 2 years alone, The Housing Fund provided down payment assistance to 28 homes in Antioch. (The Tennessean)
- Support local organizations that work to make housing in Middle Tennessee more affordable, such as The Housing Fund and How’s Nashville.
- Volunteer through Hands On Nashville on projects such as the Home Energy Saving Program to help low-income homeowners cut costs and live more comfortably.
- Support the development of additional permanent and affordable housing options in Middle Tennessee.
- Learn more about organizations addressing housing and related issues in Middle Tennessee at GivingMatters.com.