'Change the wealth gap': Rent relief on the way for low-income families in Clarksville

Clarksville rental
Posted at 4:47 PM, Dec 20, 2022

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Clarksville officials just announced a long-term rent assistance program for some families in need.

At the United Way in Clarksville, Anita Harris found out on her birthday she'd be accepted for rent assistance. On the phone, she was thrilled.

"It’s just been a lot. It’s been a struggle to even feed my children, to pay my bills and pay my rent, and anything else. It’s like I can’t have it all in today’s market at this time, so it’s a struggle," Harris said.

The average rent for a one-bedroom in Clarksville is slightly over $1,000. Usually, renters unable to pay upwards of $1,400 in rent in Nashville would move to places like Clarksville for affordable housing.

According to Apartment Insiders, Clarksville apartment complexes are at 96% capacity, so rent has gone up.

"What I’m hoping is, times are shifting, right? We have a lot of apartments going up, and maybe that will help stabilize some of our rent that we have," United Way CEO Valerie Guzman said.

Guzman said the rent assistance is not a one-time thing. They plan to help more than 20 families for one to two years, and tenants will have regular meetings with a case manager.

“Our goal is to get them working if they need credit recovery. We’re going to work on their credit. If they want to go back to school, we’re going to make sure we help them navigate through that system,” Guzman said.

To be eligible, families must be considered low-income.

"My goal is to change the wealth gap," Guzman said.

The grant money came from the city via the federal government.

"This is really a working grant. The assistance is we’re going to walk them through life, and they’re going to walk with us," Guzman said.

Meanwhile, Anita looks forward to a brighter future.

"I can’t see my way out of it unless I get their help," Harris said. "It just means everything to me and my children."

Some of the renters they plan to help are domestic violence survivors who lost their income stream when they left their abuser.

To apply, call the United Way in Clarksville at 931-647-4291, and they will email you an application.

Get NewsChannel 5 Now, wherever, whenever, always free.

Watch the live stream below, and download our apps on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and more. Click here to learn more.