Affordable Housing

In 2013, the New York Times proclaimed that Nashville was the United States’ new “it city,” and since this time, our city has seen an astounding volume of growth in population and wealth. This growth has been incredibly beneficial for many of Nashville’s residents, especially its wealthiest citizens and the business community, but many Nashvillians argue that this growth has not had benefits for everyone. According to data collected by the Nashville Business Journal, between the years of 2013 and 2016, “the average net worth of Greater Nashville’s most affluent areas had increased by 48 percent, increasing the Greater Nashville's inequality ratio to 5.7. That means the wealthiest 20 percent of ZIP codes in the region have an average net worth that is 5.7 times larger than the average net worth of the bottom 20 percent. This gap has climbed from an inequality ratio of 4.47 in 2013.”

One of the largest problems addressed by critics who argue that this growth has not been good for all of Nashville is the issue of affordable housing. In a 61-page report released by the Office of Megan Barry in May 2017, the shortage of affordable rentals is expected to rise to 30,934 by 2025 if the city is unable create a plan to address available low-income housing in the city. In a message from the Mayor that begins this report, Megan Barry asserts that “Nearly one out of four Nashville homeowners is cost-burdened, meaning they are paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Almost half of our renters are cost-burdened, including more than 70 percent of low-income renters.” Nashville has lost 18,000 units of its affordable housing stock since 2000 due primarily to redevelopment of urban areas, thus equating to more than 20% of that stock.

According to data collected by the United States’ Census Bureau in 2015, Nashville’s median household income (MHI) was $52,026. Projections published in the Housing Report suggest the biggest expected populations to be cost-burdened are those at 30% of MHI and 120% of MHI.

If Nashville’s cost-burdened 90,250 renters and homeowners were able to pay less than 30 percent of their income on housing, it is estimated that over $345M would be invested into good and services our local economy provides.

To address this issue, the city of Nashville has developed a plan to utilize the Barnes Housing Trust Fund. Partnering with The Housing Fund, a local nonprofit, Nashville will continue to buy up properties and place them within the land trust. This will allow them to set rents that are affordable and help to promote diversity in neighborhoods that are undergoing extreme gentrification. Barry has already committed $45 million to this plan and an additional $25 million in stocks to restore and preserve existing housing units. “If Nashville is going to close the housing needs gap, we are going to have to be bold and innovative solutions to build, preserve, and maintain our supply of affordable housing,” Megan Barry asserts. It’s going to take this and a lot of Nashvillians proclaiming, “Yes in my backyard!

How you can help:

  • Support local organizations that work to make housing in Middle Tennessee more affordable for all, such as The Housing Fund and MDHA Housing Trust.

  • 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


Updated 12/21/2017 by Nicole Rose