Council Moves Closer To Affordable Housing Plan

Posted at 10:15 PM, Jul 07, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn - After years of skyrocketing rents and home prices the city is finally trying to do something about affordable housing.

Tuesday night, Metro Council gave its second approval for a bill which would order the Metro Planning Commission to come up with rules for developers on creating homes that are classified as affordable "workforce housing."

Workforce housing is defined as being affordable to households earning between 80 and 120 percent of the average median income in Davidson County.

The United States Census Bureaushows the median household income for Davidson County in 2013 was just over $47,000.

The plan is applauded by many who say they and their neighbors are being priced out of areas they've spent decades in.

Sam Cullough is a member of the group Nashville Organizing for Action and Hope, which advocates for affordable housing.

"We can have the 'it city' be for everybody in Nashville," he said. "Those who want to rent, those who want to own, let that opportunity still be there. It's the next generation we've got to look at and keep it nice and affordable as we go forward."

The sticking point over this bill for council members and for developers is how many affordable units must be included in future developments.

A previous version of the bill made it mandatory for 14 percent of any development be classified as affordable.

The version that passed Tuesday tells the Metro Planning Commission to make it a goal of around 14 percent when it develops the affordable housing plan, instead of mandatory.

Developers say they think affordable housing is needed but don't want to be told how much they have to build.

During public comment at Tuesday's Metro Council meeting, several developers called a mandate a tax.

Instead they want incentives from the city to create affordable units.

"If we force this issue on market rate developers they'll go to other cities," said commercial real estate broker Russ Oldham. "We'll have less inventory. Housing costs will go up. I do believe that we can create smart incentives and smart ways to promote affordable housing across the county. But if we mandate it I'm highly concerned what it will do to the growth of Davidson County."

This bill passed on its second reading by a vote of 27 to 11.

It still has one more vote before it becomes law.

At that point, the planning commission would have 180 days to come up with this plan.