A 22-member task force appointed by Mayor John Cooper to address Nashville’s struggles with affordable housing recommends Metro establish a new Department of Housing and implement tax increases to pay for affordable housing projects.
Cooper’s office released the task force’s set of nine recommendations on Tuesday, which outline a program to address affordable housing needs in Nashville over the next three years.
“Nashville must be a city that works for everyone,” Cooper said. “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.”
Cooper appointed the task force in January to examine current available housing, study peer cities, identify best practices and make recommendations for progress in the coming years.
The mayor’s proposed budget — now under consideration by the Metro Council — includes funding allocations totaling $37.5 million for housing initiatives, including $20 million in federal funding directed toward housing projects.
The task force recommends:
• Increasing sustainable, recurring funding for the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing to at least $30 million per year to be able to produce at least 1,500 units of housing each year.
• Creating and staffing a new “Department of Housing and Homelessness” to serve as a central place for Metro to manage housing efforts beyond the Barnes fund. At least two additional full-time staff members should be hired to maintain a housing inventory system and central dashboard for housing funding.
• Pursuing new dedicated, sustainable revenue streams for housing projects, including a 0.125% sales tax increase in the Tourism Development Zone, estimated to produce about $3.5 million in revenue each year, and an additional $2 per night hotel tax, projected to generate about $18 million per year, increasing short-term rental fees and creating an additional affordable housing fee of 0.001% for any property built or sold for over half a million dollars that does not preserve affordable housing.
• Allocating $10 million in seed capital with a goal of $40 million in matching funds to create a “Catalyst Fund” to pursue opportunistic investment to prioritize preservation of expiring subsidized and naturally occurring affordable housing.
• Leveraging underused public land to create 500 units of housing in Nashville over the next three years, disposing of non-buildable land to raise revenue for affordable housing.
• Developing strategies to partner with the state more effectively on affordable housing initiatives.
• Improving and expanding Payment in Lieu of Taxes to support Low Income Housing Tax Credits developments and fund long-term housing options in partnership with nonprofit and private developers.
• Improving zoning, planning and land-use policies. Reduce barriers to developing strategic and appropriate density that includes affordable housing.
• Investing in the Metro Development and Housing Authority’s Envision development to create mixed-use, mixed-income communities, and maximize available vouchers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.