NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A protest was held on Tuesday at the Metro Courthouse over funding cuts in Nashville.
Nashville Organized for Action and Homes held the protest to denounce Mayor John Cooper’s decision to cut $4.5 million from the Barnes Affordable Housing Fund.
The organization sent a statement about what it hopes to accomplish with the protest.
“While thousands of Nashvillians are struggling to find an affordable place to live, the Mayor’s announcement is sending a clear message that finding solutions is not a priority for his administration.”
The Mayor’s Office released a statement concerning NOAH’s protest.
“We understand why NOAH members are gathering at City Hall this evening, and we truly sympathize with many of the concerns they’ve expressed. Mayor Cooper visited with NOAH members at their annual fall fundraiser on November 17th to express his ongoing support for their work throughout our community, and we will continue to collaborate with local advocates to address the need for more robust and effective funding options for affordable housing in Nashville.
“Mayor Cooper is working to balance this year’s budget with the goal of avoiding employee layoffs and interruptions to vital city services. The delay in part of the Barnes Fund grant round was a difficult decision made in order to plug the city’s $42 million budget gap and preventing state supervision of the city’s finances. The Mayor understands how deeply frustrating it is for both affordable housing developers and advocates. Simply put, we can’t write a check for money we currently don’t have. The city is working constantly to identify revenue sources to make sure we fund the delayed Barnes grants as soon as possible. Mayor Cooper is fully committed to making the Barnes Fund whole.”
Despite Tuesday’s protest over the controversial cuts, Habitat for Humanity leaders said they’re confident the city will add more funding for affordable housing.
Earlier this month Cooper came under fire after announcing the annual funding for affordable housing would be cut nearly in half.
Cooper said the tough decision was made in response to recent warnings about the city’s budget from the state comptroller’s office and they hope to find more money for the fund in the new year.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville CEO Danny Herron said he believes Cooper is committed to improving affordable housing in Music City and will look for additional funds.
“Nobody likes it to be a part of what you get, and we don’t like it either,” said Herron. “You have to believe the people that they’re saying their committed to it. I believe in him. I think he’s going to do that.”
Herron said Habitat for Humanity was lucky enough to be one of the recipients of grants from the Barnes Housing Fund this year.