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New report highlights how unaffordable it is to live in Nashville

A recent statewide report shows just how difficult it is to afford buying a home or even renting an apartment in Music City, highlighting the need for more affordable housing.

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency recently released their “Housing Market At A Glance” report, which analyzes state housing trends from the last few years. In Nashville, it finds that single-wage earners working in fields like education, nursing and law enforcement couldn’t even afford to buy an average-priced home, around $280,000, in 2018.

The report also states people in service industry jobs like retail couldn’t afford the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in 2018, which was just above $1,000. The problem is: housing supply isn’t keeping up with demand, pushing up prices for people looking to buy or rent.

Executive Director of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, Ralph M. Perrey, issued this statement to FOX 17 News:

"Housing affordability is a challenge throughout our state, as it is in most others,” Perrey said. “House price appreciation in Tennessee topped 7%, the third highest rate of gain in the nation. If there's a silver lining for Nashville area homebuyers, it is that the rate of increase slowed a bit last year, compared to the year before. This is still a matter of supply and demand - increased demand at a time when supply is not keeping up, and that results in higher home prices for those looking to buy and higher rents for those looking to rent.”

FOX 17 News spoke with Metro Development and Housing Agency’s Communications Director, Jamie Berry.

“I don’t think anyone would deny that there is a definite need for more affordable housing in Nashville,” Berry said.

This issue doesn’t just impact people with lower-paying jobs who qualify for subsidized housing. That’s why Berry says MDHA is starting to focus more on what she calls Workforce Housing.

For example, workforce housing would assist a single-income household making between $44,800 and around $67,000 a year. Still, MDHA isn’t the only group that can help create more affordable housing options in Nashville.

Rusty Lawrence is the Executive Director of the nonprofit, Urban Housing Solutions. He says many for-profit development companies tend to shy away from building affordable houses, mainly because they’ll be making less money off of rent.

Reporter: “Are we seeing enough being done to accommodate those workforce communities outside of your guys’ efforts?

Berry: “We realize that it’s going to take a lot of partners coming to the table to attack this issue, and we have seen a lot of developers step up and do that. We have been very successful with some public/private partnerships in an effort to bring or preserve affordable housing in Nashville.”

Berry says MDHA currently has around 60 workforce housing units starting around $800 per month. This new report comes out just a few months after Mayor John Cooper announcedhe would be slashing the Barnes Fund budget in half, which supports affordable housing.

FOX 17 News requested an on-camera interview with someone from the mayor’s office, but no one was available. They did provide us with this statement:

“This is an enormous challenge. In fact, there is not a single city or county in the entire nation where a working family can afford even a modest two-bedroom apartment, at market price, on the minimum wage. Mayor Cooper remains committed to increasing the number of affordable housing units here in Nashville while continuing to empower all Nashvillians to join in on the historic growth and prosperity we’ve seen in our city.”

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