By: House Nashville Leadership Team
Date: April 14, 2016
What: A rally and press conference followed by a march and sleep-out at Fort Negley
When: FRIDAY, APRIL 15, 4:30pm with press conference at 5:00pm at City Hall, Public Square Park. March to Fort Negley begins at 7pm. Set up encampment 7:45. Enforcement of park rules begins at 11pm.
Why: To demand (1) an end to the end to the criminalization of homelessness and all camp closures, including the closure of Fort Negley, until there is land for authorized encampments in Davidson County; and (2) a commitment for a comprehensive and strategic housing plan to address the need for 20,000 units of affordable housing (0-60% Davidson County Median Income) to be implemented in 2016.
In Nashville there are currently 104,000 households, not counting people who are homeless, in need of affordable housing at Below 80% of the Area Median Income, which equals about 40% of the total population of the city. We will need to build approximately 1,700 units of affordable housing each year to house low- to moderate-income newcomers to our city. The only tool that will produce enough affordable units of housing for a significant portion of this population is increasing the Barnes Housing Trust Fund with a bond issue of at least $125 Million, and the only organization that will keep units of housing affordable for good is a Community Land Trust. We have waited too long for government action and we all know that the real estate industry is not capable or willing to accomplish this task and address the housing crisis for Nashvillians in need. We demand that the Mayor’s office and the City Council immediately provide the funding and organizational capacity to meet Nashville’s needs. We want a comprehensive plan for affordable housing and a cabinet level office of housing to report to the people about specific plans, means, and goals to address this societal problem. It is time to take action now. –Dr. Jim Fraser, Professor at Vanderbilt University
12,112 unique individuals accessing shelter and transitional housing last year, a whopping 34% increase over the year before. Yet that number doesn’t include couples, people with pets, late jobs, or those too traumatized for shelter, and we know many. Also mostly uncounted, the 3,081 schoolchildren (an increase of 8%), plus their custodial parents and children too young or out of school: some 7000 more. Nashville has more than 15,000 without permanent housing or literally on the street, 20-30% of whom are children. MDHA (the Metropolitan Housing and Development Agency) received 15,127 applications for housing voucher support last August, and 14,491 wait, and wait, for slowly occurring vacancies. Yet we cannot end homelessness without stopping the slide into it. One in five Nashvillians— 129,000 people including some 35,000 children —live in deep poverty, often concentrated in areas historically neglected, redlined, and discriminated against. Many families, here for generations, are being driven out of their homes. The suffering is terrible: over half of renters are “cost burdened,” often paying much more than 30% of their income in rent. And it is getting worse. A study in the Journal of Urban Affairs found that for every $100 rise in rent, homelessness increases by 15%. Average 1 bedroom rent in Nashville has risen $220 since the beginning of 2013—predicting, exactly as we have seen, more than a 30% increase in homelessness. Nashville urgently needs 20,000 units of affordable housing now, and more planned to meet rising need.