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Nashville plans to tackle affordable housing shortage in growing neighborhoods

(WZTV)

Through the sound of construction in East Nashville came the sound of despair on Tuesday, as neighbors are fed up with the lack of affordable options.

"I'm trapped out here," resident Kevin Rice said. "I'm literally trapped."

Rice said while old houses continue to be torn down to make way for expensive new condos, he needs to work two jobs to pay the bills.

He's seen neighbors forced to leave who can't keep up with the rising cost of rent and property taxes.

"We're just basically all displaced," Rice said.

The Mayor's Office of Housing is tasked with giving people like Rice options.

" We need housing for everyone in Nashville," said Adriane Harris, office director. "We need it for bus drivers, teachers. We need it for metro employees. We need it for young professionals. There are 22 universities and colleges in the middle Tennessee area, and there's no reason young professionals shouldn't be able to stay here."

On Tuesday, Harris presented to the Industrial Development Board the department's recommendations, which include $25 million in general obligation bonds.

It also included expanding the property tax abatement program, which essentially give tax breaks to developers who promised to build low-rent housing.

"We want to make sure that we are creating incentives for developers," Harris said.

That department also recommends creating a task force to better plan for a future developments and looking at what other cities like Austin, Charlotte and New Orleans are doing to address similar problems.

Rice said he hopes the plan works soon because every day more of his neighbors are moving in with family or moving out of town.

"Give us a chance to try," Rice said.

He said he isn't looking for a handout. He's just asking for an opportunity.

Several affordable housing developers were on hand at the Industrial Development Board Meeting. Some seemed eager to learn more about working with Metro to get their projects off the ground.

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