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Metro Housing Trust approves more then $5 million to build affordable housing units

Metro Housing Trust approves more then $5 million to build affordable housing units (Fox 17 News)
Metro Housing Trust approves more then $5 million to build affordable housing units (Fox 17 News)
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The Metro Housing Trust Fund Commission approved more than $5 million in funding for affordable housing units in Nashville.

A total of $5,080,377.19 will be awarded to 10 organizations for the creation of 163 Barnes Housing Trust-funded housing units in developments that will result in 221 affordable housing units overall.

“The Barnes Fund continues to be a great resource for non-profit developers to provide the funding necessary to build, maintain, and preserve affordable housing in Nashville,” Mayor Megan Barry said. “While we have a great deal of work to do to close the housing gap in Nashville, these additional units will make important and lasting differences in the lives of working families and those in need in Davidson County.”

Grants were given to groups that looked to house Nashvillie neighbors while respecting the community’s needs and increasing affordable housing options.

“The funding provided by the Barnes Fund continues to make a difference in the lives of Nashvillians who struggle to find quality affordable housing options,” said Morgan Mansa, executive director of the Barnes Fund. “We look forward to working with non-profit developers to expand their capacity to create even more housing options in the future.”

Many grant winners offered options for some of Nashville’s most vulnerable populations, such as seniors, large families, the unhoused population, ex-offenders, New Americans, victims of domestic violence, veterans, and persons with disabilities. Proposed developments will also include mixed-income communities and prioritize housing for police officers, fire fighters and teachers.

Mending Hearts, Inc. is one of the groups selected. Co-founder, Trina Frierson said the non-profit will open a brand new, eight-bedroom home on Albion street this Friday with Tennessee Housing Development Agency.

"Our mission is to serve homeless, indigent women due to addiction and mental health disorders," Frierson said. "We're in an epidemic believe it or not with the housing crisis because here at an agency such as Mending Hearts, we can always try to rehabilitate and restore...but what happens when they get to the end of the road and there's nowhere else to go."

In April of 2016, Mayor Megan Barry committed to allocating $10 million per year for every year she is in office to the Barnes Trust Fund for Affordable Housing. An additional $5 million was allocated from the sale of the former Nashville Convention Center, which funded this round of improvements.

Mending Hearts said it plans on building at least 16 more affordable units on its campus that spans four blocks. Like the new house opening this week, the others will also be environmentally sustainable. Quality Home Builder Owner Rodney Patrick said it's the first solar unit in the Northwest Nashville area.

"The electrical bill will probably be anywhere from $8-$10 dollars a month," Patrick said.

It's more valuable with Patrick, a former TSU football player, and others donating time and resources, according to Frierson.

"While the Mayor has done a great job in helping our city move towards this, I don't think she has enough money for what we need in our city," Frierson said. "All hands need to be on deck in order for us to be effective."

"With them helping and contractors like me coming forth to try and make it happen, it makes it easier and better," Patrick said. "It's a blessing to me."

Established in 2013, the Barnes Fund provides grants to non-profit developers that can be used to leverage federal and private funds to aid in the creation of affordable housing in Davidson County. Eligible projects must create or preserve affordable housing opportunities in Nashville and Davidson County.

Rental projects must be affordable to households with incomes at or below 60 percent of the median family income adjusted for family size. Homebuyer and homeowner rehabilitation projects must be affordable to households with incomes at or below 80% of the median family income adjusted for family size.

The resolution authorizing the $5 million in grant allocations will be considered by the Metro Council at the November 21, 2017 meeting. The Barnes Fund recently accepted applications for $10 million worth of grants that will be reviewed and considered by the Housing Trust Fund Commission in the coming months.

Winning applications include:

Mary Parrish (East Nashville)- The Mary Parrish Center provides a completely cost-free, two-year, therapeutic transitional housing program for women and their children who have become homeless as a direct result of fleeing domestic and/or sexual violence. Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children in the United States, which is why it is so important that Nashville prioritize safe, affordable housing options for domestic and sexual violence victims. Their proposal includes the rehabilitation for 5 units for households below 30% of the AMI and 5 units for households earning 30 – 60 % of the AMI.

Rebuilding Together Nashville (scattered site)- Rebuilding Together Nashville proposes to rehabilitate 39 homes for residents earning at or below 80% of the AMI. These residents would include seniors, persons with disabilities, and extremely low-income populations. Rehabilitating homes for lower-income residents is a critical component in preventing the displacement of long-time Nashvillians. These activities would not only help to bring homes up to code, but would also integrate energy efficiency measures and accessibility standards for persons with disabilities and enable residents to age in place.

Affordable Housing Resources (scattered site)- Affordable Housing Resources seeks to build 12 single-family units for homeownership, scattered throughout East Nashville, North Nashville, and Madison. Each of these homes would have 3 bedrooms, meeting Nashville’s need to accommodate larger families. The homes would also be energy efficient and for households earning 60 – 80% of the AMI.

Habitat for Humanity – Nashville (Antioch)- Habitat for Humanity has built 29 homes in the Antioch area since 2012, and the eight more proposed homes would further their commitment to the community. Through housing provided at a 0% interest mortgage, members of Nashville’s vulnerable populations, such as New Americans, women heads of household, and large families, will have the opportunity to work towards financial stability and long-term homeownership.

Woodbine Community Organization (South Nashville) - This proposed project would provide a total of 20 accessible, ENERGY STAR certified units which would accommodate seniors, veterans, extremely low-income individuals, and student care givers. The 20 units would be spread between several different levels of income, with Barnes Fund money helping to construct 19 of the 20 units. These units will be especially important, as housing for families below 60% AMI experience a demand gap of some 18,000 units.

New Level CDC (West Nashville)- The six Barnes-funded townhomes in this West Nashville neighborhood will be part of a larger, mixed-income 330-unit community designed to provide affordable housing for teachers, police officers, and fire fighters. This project would enhance the community with a greenway for families, a dedicated Metro Nashville Public Schools bus stop for children and socioeconomic diversity for all.

Dismas, Inc. (North Nashville)- Dismas, Inc. receives over 300 applications every year from formally incarcerated Nashvillians seeking to be a part of their program. Their current infrastructure affords them to serve eight clients at a time and through the Barnes Innovation round of funding, they will be able to increase their capacity by building 46 new units for their clients. All of these units will serve residents earning below 30% of the AMI.

Be a Helping Hand Foundation (Wedgewood/Houston)- The Be a Helping Hand Foundation seeks to build four units to provide transitional affordable housing for persons with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, women heads of the household, and large families. Large families in particular are one of the most underserved populations in affordable housing, as building large units is often not cost effective for non-profit developers or profitable for for-profit developers. In a previous ribbon-cutting ceremony for a BAHHF development, Mayor Megan Barry declared that “This is what affordable housing looks like.”

Mending Hearts, Inc. (West Nashville)- These 16 affordable housing units will serve one of the most at-risk communities in Nashville, homeless special needs women. Almost 70% of Mending Hearts’ population has also been formerly incarcerated, making it even more difficult for them to find housing options. All of the units in this West Nashville project are dedicated to serving the lowest income women, and additionally, all units are environmentally sustainable.

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Project Return (Madison)- These affordable housing units will be built specifically for persons who were formerly incarcerated. The project will seek to mix residents of different income levels; three units will be set aside for individuals earning below 60% of the AMI, while one unit will be available for on-site staff, earning over 80% AMI. Project Return’s target participants are an extremely high-demand community in Nashville, as approximately 33% live with family and friends upon entering the program, while 60% live in temporary housing, halfway housing, shelters, or on the streets.

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