Low-income renters hit hard in Nashville's boom, affordable hous - WSMV Channel 4

Low-income renters hit hard in Nashville's boom, affordable housing shortage

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Renters in Nashville know finding a home and keeping it isn't easy. Some renters are being priced out, and it's hitting lower income residents hard.

Mayor Megan Barry's office estimates there are nearly 20,000 fewer units to rent than 17 years ago. She has proposed some funding to help with affordable housing in the city.

Channel 4's Briona Arradondo spoke to a woman who had to leave her apartment of seven years.

Anna Holt used to live at Prestige Point apartments in South Nashville. In February, Holt said the property owners gave her 60 days to move out.

"I had no intentions of moving. I was comfortable there. It was a very big shock, and to say 60 days, was just impossible to do," Holt said.

Being on Section 8, Holt said that's too short of notice.

"It's a six- to eight-month process to get on a waiting list," she said.

The volunteer group Homes for All Nashville said it helped get Holt and other low-income tenants an extension through May at Prestige Point and Premier West apartments. Both complexes were bought by developer Covenant Capital.

"(I) went to Section 8 and got a list of apartments that took them, and I made phone calls every single day to each one of those apartment complexes for 30 days solid, checking. And that's how I even lucked up here," Holt said.

Austin Sauerbrei with Homes for All Nashville hopes the mayor's budget, if approved, will help.

"The mayor announced a $25 million general obligation bond that, from my understanding, a portion of that money will be used to invest in existing low-income housing," Sauerbrei said."On average, folks are spending between $1,500 and $2,000 just to get out of the apartment. Again, that includes some people are spending $400 or $500 just on applications fees."

Even though she has help from the city, Holt's rent still went up $100. She said that's money coming from her food and prescription budget, so her current lease is still a temporary fix for just one year.

"I was hoping that Prestige would change their mind and let some of us come back, and that's still (my) hope," Holt said. "Otherwise, I'll move to Rutherford County and just drive back and forth to the doctor."

For 69-year-old Mary Hall, money is an emotional topic.

"A lot of places I was turned down and they didn't want to take Section 8. And a lot of places, it was just hard," Hall said.

After making the rounds at several complexes earlier this year, she and her two grandchildren finally settled into their west Nashville apartment, but now without Section 8 vouchers or any help.

"I'm paying $1,295 a month. I'm a single grandmother," Hall said.

Hall used to pay less than half of that at Premier West apartments.

"I got it, even though it took all of my little savings. I was saving for my grandchildren to maybe get in some kind of camp," Hall said.

It cost Hall about $2,000 to relocate to her new home. It drained her savings, and the unexpected cost put her and other low-income residents in a bind.

Channel 4 reached out to Covenant Capital for comment. The company sent this statement from Govan D. White:

Covenant Capital has been cooperative with Nashville housing stakeholders and residents of Premier West and Prestige Point. We extended leases through the school year and held a housing fair on site to help residents with the transition. We’ve welcomed residents to visit our on site management offices to discuss their individual situations and how we can help. It’s important to note that both properties had been in bankruptcy and poorly kept. They have uninhabitable units and were in desperate need of infrastructure updates. This is why all residents needed to move out around the time of the natural expiration of their leases. When the renovations are complete, the rates at this property will remain classified as affordable under Metro and HUD’s guidelines based on Metro Nashville’s Median Income.

Covenant Capital said it held a housing fair for residents of both complexes in April, and none of the former tenants were evicted. The company said after the renovations are completed next year, the complexes will still be considered affordable housing per the city of Nashville's guidelines. Covenant Capital said it is not sure it will accept Section 8 vouchers at both locations again.

For more information about the mayor's housing initiative, click here.

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