31,000 by 2023—that's the number of rental houses we will need in three years if nothing is done to remedy to remedy the situation. This according to a study done by former Mayor Megan Barry's administration.
Mayor Cooper's Affordable Housing Task Force projects the gap to be 50,000 by 2030. The Task Force, 21 Nashvillians, produced a marvelous report over six months' time this year. Paulette Coleman, a member of the Task Force understood the problem when she said, "the need for affordable housing is enormous."
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Section 8 housing, government assisted housing, has a waiting list of 10,000. The city is building 40 units on public property at present. The Barnes Fund offers money to builders for rehab and affordable units depending on annual appropriation. We need a trust fund as a recurring source for this fund.
Fr. Charles Strobel, founder of Room in the Inn intends to add 10 more affordable units to his 38 unit complex located at the complex.
In a recent edition of the Tennessean Jay Servais, Interim Director of Metro homelessness Impact Division, stated "2,000 people this year found housing through a housing first strategy which opens and creates housing."
Another program, Rapid Housing, used $10 million of federal money to house 400 people in 6 months. Fourteen people were given housing with an additional program.
The same author refers to the city working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in a long-term homelessness strategy and plan they will reveal in a few weeks.
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You notice there are many wonderful attempts to solve the Affordable Housing Problem but no independent office of a director. District 19 Metro Councilman Freddie O'Connell has proposed a bill to create one. All the sources mentioned above could disappear with the election of a new mayor. The Mayor's Affordable Housing Task Force suggested such a person and office. By removing staff from the mayor's office and moving them to Civil Service, staff can provide consistent service across administrations.
31,000 by 2025. We are a long way off from adequate response to this enormous need. The ideas and actions taken so far are brilliant but woefully inadequate. Can we respond to this tremendous challenge? Thousands depend on it.
James Zralek is a retired federal probation officer who resides in Nashville.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville must rise to the challenge and create more affordable housing