Advocates call for strong CBA, affordable housing & livable wages across East Nashville

Prices for apartments are going through the roof. The group Stand Up Nashville is making sure those who can’t afford high rent are not forgotten.
Updated: Mar. 14, 2022 at 6:00 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - If you’ve looked for an apartment or a place to live lately, it goes without saying that prices are through the roof.

The group Stand Up Nashville, along with several other community organizations, are trying to make sure those who can’t afford high rent are not forgotten about as redevelopment plans continue across East Nashville.

Organizers and volunteers with Stand Up Nashville gathered at McFerrin Park last Wednesday, getting fliers ready to pass around the neighborhood.

“We’re going back to the old school days of people going around and canvassing, talk face to face,” Nathaniel Carter, Director of Workforce and Employment with Stand Up Nashville, said.

Carter is also a Nashville native.

“You have grandmothers and grandfathers and things of that nature that are on fixed income, and those types of people are being pushed out of the community,” Carter said.

Carter and the rest of the group want long-time residents to know about their negotiations for a Community Benefits Agreement with Cypress Real Estate Advisors (CREA), the company responsible for the RiverChase redevelopment in East Nashville.

Stand Up Nashville said this is the city’s second Community Benefits Agreement since the 2018 agreement struck with Nashville Soccer Holdings for the new MLS soccer stadium. Groups involved also include NOAH, The Equity Alliance, LiUNA, SEIU Local 205 and the McFerrin Park Neighborhood Association.

“What we’re doing is we’re trying to get affordable housing in the area, higher paying jobs, and community amenities in the area,” Carter said.

News4 tagged along with volunteers David and Corrine as they went door to door handing out fliers and letting people living in the community know about the negotiations.

“I’ve lived in this house with my daughters since 2008,” East Nashville resident Roxie Williams said.

In those 14 years, Williams watched Nashville grow, prices soar and push longtime residents out.

“The people who are living in the apartments over there now, of course they’re feeling it because now they have to uproot their family. They’re already probably paying high rent as it is and now they’re going to have to get out there and look for a place they can afford, which they can’t afford,” Williams said.

Anglia Newsom was one of them. News4 spoke with her a few months ago.

“It’s real difficult,” Newsom said.

She’s struggling to find a new place to live after being told she had to leave because of the redevelopment happening at RiverChase Apartments.

“It’s a lot of people out here still struggling,” Newsom said.

Volunteers with Stand Up Nashville are asking people to fill out the flier by scanning a QR code. After they scan it and fill it out, the letter will then be sent to members of the Metro Council.

“I want Nashville to stay a place that I want to live, and again, a big part of that is socioeconomic diversity, the cultural diversity, the racial diversity, and I’m going to fight to preserve what I love about Nashville,” Councilmember Sean Parker said.

Parker, who represents the district, said it’s been a team effort getting both the developer and community groups to come together.

“I think CREA has kind of gone above and beyond in this case. They’ve really put a lot of resources into helping the displaced residents find other housing,” Parker said. “(PATHE Nashville) has been working with them, Salvation Army has been working with them.”

CREA plans to make over 1,000 multi-family housing units, 220 of those will be affordable and workforce housing.

The homeowners in the area hope CREA’s promise to help the people who live there is its main focus.

“I understand that progress is necessary. I understand that upgrades are necessary, but who are you doing that for? You doing it to bring in people that really don’t know anything about Nashville or are you trying to take care of people that live in the neighborhood, or people that live in Nashville? It’s all about Nashvillians. It’s all about Nashvillians,” Williams said.

Metro Council members, advocacy groups led by Stand Up Nashville and McFerrin Park residents will gather in front of the Metro Courthouse Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. for what they say is the strongest Community Benefits Agreement possible at the RiverChase Apartments site in East Nashville.

Organizers said they want to ensure that no zoning changes move forward at the Riverchase site without a strong Community Benefits Agreement in place.

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