Advocates come together to demand housing fund restoration

A group of community organizations, along with concerned residents, joined forces to address an issue that is very important to the people of Nashville and called on the mayor and city leaders to provide financial funding to address housing needs at a rally on December 17.

The rally, organized by the People’s Alliance for Transit, Housing and Employment Coalition along with Nashville Organized for Action and Hope and Open Table Nashville occurred on the steps of the Metro Courthouse in downtown Nashville. Concerned residents wanted to address the issue of affordable housing and called on Nashville Mayor John Cooper to fully fund the Barnes Housing Trust. Prior to the rally, Mayor Cooper had announced that the annual budget for the Barnes Housing Trust Fund, a program that is designed to have financial resources reserved to fund the construction of affordable homes in the Metro Nashville area, would be reduced to balance the city’s budget. According to a press release, Cooper ran a campaign in 2018 that made affordable housing a top priority for Nashville residents.

Kay Bowers, executive director of New Level Development Corporation, said she decided to attend the rally because she believed that housing provides stability for people to be successful in their personal lives. Bowers said she was surprised and disappointed by the amount of money the Barnes Housing Trust would receive, but said the Metro Finance Commission was also shocked by the mayor’s announcement. She also said affordable housing was one of the main issues in the 2018 mayoral election. Bowers said that this affordable home funding reduction could have a devastating impact on the work her organization is trying to accomplish.

“To build affordable homes, you have to raise a lot of money to be able to build and provide at rent prices that people can afford,” said Bowers.

According to the press release, advocacy groups such as PATHE Coalition, NOAH, and Open Table Nashville are calling on Mayor Cooper and the Metro Council to come up with ways to restore the $4.5 million to the Barnes Housing Trust Fund. The press release also points out the permanent need for affordable housing that makes the needs of Nashville residents a top priority over wealthy individuals. Bowers said that the rally puts that pressure on city leaders.