Nashville’s Affordable Housing Task Force declared that racial equity, antiracism, and reparations are several goals for affordable housing development. These goals were outlined in Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s affordable housing report, published Wednesday. The task force wrote in the report that these goals would bolster their recommendations, leading to significant progress for the next four years.
“Racial inequity permeates Nashville’s past and present – and housing is no exception. While existing Fair Housing policies are intended to protect vulnerable communities, many Black and Brown Nashvillians still face housing discrimination,” read the task force report. “Current status-quo practices and policies continue to perpetuate harm, so we must intentionally work to design and implement solutions that are anti-racist both in outcomes and processes.” [emphasis added]
The task force questioned if decision-makers were representative of the communities impacted by the decisions; if Fair Housing best practices were being used and accomplished; if solutions reduce, eliminate, repair, or reconcile barriers and past harms to communities of color; if a solution challenges or reinforces systems of oppression; if the affordable housing industry is “complicit in the systems of oppression;” and what the unintended consequences a solution may have for residents of color. The task force also suggested research on examples of “housing-based reparations initiatives for residents – and descendants – impacted by housing discrimination.”
In the accompanying press release, Cooper’s statement on the report didn’t address the task force’s goals concerning racial equity, anti-racism, and reparations.
“Nashville must be a city that works for everyone,” said Cooper. “And – in a city that works for everyone – everyone who works here should be able to live here. That includes our teachers, first responders, and food service workers – the essential workers who got us through this past year.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) classifies affordable housing as residents spending less than 30 percent of their annual income on rent or mortgage. According to the mayor’s press release, around 65,000 households spent over 30 percent of their income on rent or mortgage before the pandemic.
The mayor’s office revealed that the city plans to churn out at least 1,350 affordable housing units annually, but with a goal of 5,250 units a year to accomplish their entire goal – around 64,000 units.
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