Nashville groups seek benefits for low-income East Nashville residents
Tamika White with The Equity Alliance speaks in front of the Metro Nashville Courthouse on Tuesday. (Photo: Dulce Torres Guzman)
Metro Nashville councilmembers and affordable housing advocates hope negotiations with developers at the RiverChase apartment site in East Nashville will serve as a solid basis for future development in Nashville to benefit low-income residents.
On Tuesday, Councilmembers Zulfat Suara, Sean Parker, Colby Sledge and others met with representatives of Stand Up Nashville (SUN), the Equity Alliance and other organizations to discuss ongoing negotiations with developer Cypress Real Estate Advisors in an effort to establish a Community Benefits Agreement that includes job opportunities and multi-family housing.
Council members are considering a request to the developers for an agreement that includes affordable housing, good jobs and worker protections, and a path to allow current residents to return.
“Housing is a crisis in Nashville,” said Councilmember-at-large Zulfat Suara. “We have to keep looking for ways to keep Nashvillians in Nashville… and this agreement is a way to do that.”
Advocates are also negotiating on behalf of families still residing in the RiverChase apartments. A total of 275 families were to vacate their apartments, most not having their leases renewed, due to future development planned by Cypress.
“There were instances where we knocked on doors in RiverChase and we were the ones delivering the news to them that they were about to get re-developed out of their houses,” said David Rutledge, a SUN volunteer and a resident living near the apartments.
You can’t just come in here and displace people.That takes away a lot of the affordable housing units that the city needs.
– Tamika White, The Equity Alliance
Of those 275 families, 50 families still remain at RiverChase and have been unable to find somewhere else to live.
According to Tamika White, spokesperson for the Equity Alliance, some of the families currently housed at RiverChase through the Housing Choice Voucher Program have been unable to transfer elsewhere due to the current housing shortages in Nashville.
“You can’t just come in here and displace people,” said White. “That takes away a lot of the affordable housing units that the city needs. If you come in and you build and you don’t replace what you take away, what does that leave for families? We’ll be in a crisis that we’re in now, a housing shortage.”
The remaining RiverChase families currently have until May 31 to find somewhere to live, although negotiations are seeking to allow families to stay until housing is available.
SUN advocates are also asking for 200 multi-family affordable-housing units to be included in the Community Benefits Agreement, along with opportunities for local residents to apply for jobs in the construction of the new apartments.
“Our role is to press them, but they’ve certainly been responsive,” said Rutledge.
If successful, the agreement between residents and developers could serve as a model for future developments in Nashville, said White.
Last year, housing advocates petitioned for affordable housing to be included in a development on the east bank of the Cumberland River, which is set to house a $65 million Oracle project.
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