NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As Nashville continues to grow, community organizers said they are working to prevent the most vulnerable from being left behind.
Affordable housing advocates are working on negotiating a community benefits agreement that would protect residents at the RiverChase apartment site, a property that is being redeveloped by Cypress Real Estate Advisors.
Just now: residents, advocates and faith leaders spoke at a rally outside the Metro Council, sharing the struggle faced by the people of RiverChase Apartments in East Nashville.— STAND UP Nashville ☀️ (@StandUpNash) May 5, 2022
63 families remain at the property & have until the end of the month to leave. It’s not enough time. pic.twitter.com/At4EfcHzBU
Most of the buildings at RiverChase apartments have been boarded up, but there are still 63 families living at the complex. They have until the end of the month to move out.
At a rally inside the Metro Courthouse, community organizers said that's not enough time and are urging city leaders and developers to do more to prevent these residents from becoming homeless.
Vanessa Meritt — a resident at RiverChase — said she feels stuck. She has a housing voucher but may lose it soon.
"If we lose Riverchase, it's over. Like if my voucher runs out, I'll be homeless," Merritt said.
To help people in the same situation, advocates are asking developers to agree on a community benefits agreement that includes protections for residents and secures job opportunities.
"We have negotiated 200 affordable units. CREA has provided $2,200 in financial aid to help all families at RiverChase relocate and they hired financial navigators to help RiverChase families find housing, but he still don't have a CBA," said Martha Carrol with Stand Up Nashville.
The problem is that Nashville doesn't have many affordable housing options.
"The developers, to their credit, are putting resources to help people get housed in the meantime before the project is complete, and they can move back but the issue is there is no way to go," said District 5 Councilmember Sean Parker.
For Merritt finding a new home is just one challenge she's going through.
"It's hard especially with trying to figure out my other life without my husband of 17 years," she said.
Her husband Antonio Merritt was killed in 2020 outside of RiverChase.
"I feel like they're taking another memory from me. I feel like I'm leaving him there with them tearing it down," she said.
The Metro Council will hold a hearing on the rezoning of the Riverchase Apartments in July.