Community organizers host rally for affordable housing

Metro Council members arrive to the Metro Courthouse greeted by protesters and community organizers for their final Council meeting of the legislative term.

A community organization, along with other protesters and supporters, came together at the Nashville courthouse to view a play as part of a movement calling on city leaders to address one of the most important economic issues facing the city on August 20.

The Marie Antoinette Cake Party was held on the steps of the Metro Courthouse in downtown Nashville before the last Metro Council meeting of the current term. Hosted by the People’s Alliance for Transit, Housing, and Employment (PATHE), the purpose of the play was for community organizers and other leaders to call on local elected officials and Mayor David Briley to address the issue of affordable housing.

The play featured a dramatic reenactment comparing Nashville’s housing crisis to Marie Antoinette’s “Let them eat cake” moment. During the play, community members passed out 31,000 cakes to Metro Council members to call attention to the housing crisis.

Angelique Johnson, member of Music City Riders United, said she came to the rally and play because she was supportive of the movement to build 31,000 affordable homes in Nashville and to let people know the housing problem in Nashville has turned into a full-blown crisis. Many people in Nashville are homeless and cannot afford to pay rent. Johnson said there were 3,000 students in Metro Nashville that are currently homeless, and that city leaders need to understand the city’s housing crisis has an effect on everyone.

An actress dressed as Marie Antoinette stands outside the Metro Courthouse waiting for Metro Council members to arrive.

“I feel like it affects a lot of different people differently,” Johnson said. “It affects me because I have a lot of friends and family members that are homeless to this day. I have a lot of friends that can’t get housing for different reasons that shouldn’t even exist. It’s not fair that so many don’t have a home in America. We all should have somewhere to stay.”

Another grassroots group, Save the Rock Block, was also present. They were also trying to prevent apartment buildings on Elliston Place from being demolished and replaced by hotel and boutique shops across from the Exit Inn. Legislation has called for the property to be rezoned. Talisha Cobb, organizer for Save the Rock Block, said she decided to organize the rally as a way of getting people involved civically and politically. Cobb also said she and her friends decided to come together and organize the grassroots effort after learning they were not informed about the rezoning plan brought before the Metro Council. She said the response to the rally was positive.

The Marie Antoinette Cake Party was part of the Movement for 31,000 Affordable Homes, an alliance that brings together community organizations, neighborhood and faith leaders, and ordinary people to address the topics facing our communities in Metro Nashville today, according to a press release.

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