Nashville’s Metro Council approved two proposals aimed at creating more affordable housing in Davidson County Tuesday, The Tennessean reported.
The first — and less controversial — piece of legislation outlines a new three-year pilot program that lets residential developers who agree to build affordably priced units compete for $2 million in grants. The trial program is optional for developers, and after its three years are up the council and mayor’s office will review the effectiveness of the program and decide whether or not to continue it.
The second bill centers around inclusionary zoning, and requires apartment developers in Nashville who are building five or more units to include a percentage of new affordable housing units in their projects when they request a zoning variance for the likes of density or height. The grants pilot program could help offset developers’ costs associated with making housing cheaper than market value.
The inclusionary zoning policy will go into effect next summer, and only addresses apartments, not for-sale homes. The approval for the bill came after months of discussion, during which time real estate and apartment association groups and others in the city’s business community spoke out against the legislation. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry remained neutral on inclusionary zoning, but her administration supported and helped engineer the grants pilot program.
Councilman and affordable housing advocate Fabian Bedne told The Tennessean that while the two bills were a positive step, there’s still a lot of work to be done around affordable housing in the city.
“This is just a small part of a huge need that Nashville has,” says Bedne, who helped spearhead efforts. “This isn’t just about affordable housing, but it’s about displacement. We have so many families in Nashville that are being displaced by the increased buying of properties. This is a way we can try to start reverting that process.”
Kelsey E. Thomas is a writer and editor based in the most upper-left corner of the country. She writes about urban policy, equitable development and the outdoors (but also about nearly everything else) with a focus on solutions-oriented journalism. She is a former associate editor and current contributing editor at Next City.