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New report shows government red tape contributes to Middle TN housing shortage

New report shows government red tape contributes to Middle Tennessee Housing shortage
New report shows government red tape contributes to Middle Tennessee Housing shortage
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A new report finds local government red tape is contributing to a housing shortage in Middle Tennessee.

The report from Nashville-based government watchdog The Beacon Center finds 89 percent of Davidson County does not allow the development of multi-family housing, which ultimately leads to inflated housing costs. Some areas are even more restricted, like Brentwood, which does not allow multi-family housing in 99 percent of the city.

“Through those types of restrictions, you arbitrarily and artificially limit the supply of housing, which drives up prices, and makes it harder, particularly for those who are low or middle income,” Beacon Center Director of Policy Ron Shultis said.

Their research found some places, like Sumner County, virtually ban all multi-family housing.

While others, like Maury County, allow duplexes almost anywhere, leading to more affordable housing options.

“Local governments restrict the amount of homes which makes it harder for all of us,” Shultis said.

The report also found restrictions on lot sizes, with some counties limiting the number of homes allowed per acre. There are also restrictions on secondary housing, commonly known as “mother-in-law suites.”

“It can also make it very clear as to why it's very hard to develop land in Middle Tennessee because the restrictions and regulations change dramatically from town to town,” Shultis said.

But local realtor Craig Edwards says, zoning regulations exist for a reason. Some areas don’t have the infrastructure to handle multi-family housing.

The regulations also help current homeowners maintain property value.

“If you put in a lot more duplexes and triplexes, that kind of thing, you can diminish the prices for those single site-built homes that are there. So that's of concern,” Edwards said.

But Edwards also says some of his clients struggle to find a home in their budget, and more inventory can help with housing the shortage.

“I'm trying to get enough people into affordable housing in the area, it's a difficult thing,” Edwards said.

The Beacon Center hopes this report can shed light on what’s contributing to the housing shortage, and will encourage local governments to take another look at their zoning plans. Zoning map can be found here.

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