As property values rise, so do concerns for affordable housing, scams

Outside Corrine Mathews' home (Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Property values for homes in certain parts of Nashville have grown by more than 50 percent between 2011 and 2015, according to data from Metropolitan Social Services.

When comparing those areas to where people age 65 and older are in poverty, it shows that areas with the highest increase in property value also have the highest concentrations of older adults living in poverty.

With a reappraisal in April, some homeowners are worried their property values will have increased so much their tax bills will be unaffordable.

It is especially concerning for homeowners and older adults living on fixed incomes.

Corrine Mathews knows first-hand how increasing property values can change a neighborhood and who lives there.

Corrine Mathews (Photo: WKRN)
Corrine Mathews (Photo: WKRN)

She bought her home in Waverly Place in 1964. It was a huge accomplishment for a black woman in a neighborhood where, when she was a child, African-Americans could not be in unless they were working.

“I just never thought I could buy a home, so I was very happy,” she said. “I worked and saved and took care of my home.”

Mathews’ home is on the historic registry, and the interior looks like a museum with antiques from different eras, including Jim Crow segregation.

“I bought my house for $10,000 with the help of one of my hair clients who gave me money for the down payment,” she said. “A lot of black families moved into the area, and we had a nice community.”

But now the neighborhood is changing because it is a hot zip code for new construction. Home values from 2013 to 2016 based on sales increased by 30 percent in her area.

Homes in her neighborhood are selling for more than $900,000.

“It’s sad to see friends and family moving out,” she said. “It is really painful to see that.”

RELATED: Longtime Nashville residents worry property increase will force them to move

The Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee and their partner organization are hearing more stories like that of Mathews from older adults.

“We get calls from people who are worried about staying in their homes, and we are hearing complaints from people who are getting scammed,” executive director Grace Smith said. “We had the Legal Aid Society speaking at our meeting today and they are getting calls from older adults who have contractors taking advantage of them.”

According to Smith, the older adults are being contacted by contractors who promise to make repairs to their homes in order to help them stay in their homes.

But the contractor just takes the money.

“The reason they have need the work done to stay in their home is because developers are calling codes on home owners who won’t sell them their home,” Smith explained to News 2. “Once codes officials come out and tells the homeowner they have to make the repair, some of them can’t afford the repairs.”

She continued, “In cases where they pay for the repairs, they are getting taken advantage of by a contractor.”

The Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee has resources available to older adults and caregivers. There is a directory of services that is free to older adults and caregivers that is available at all Nashville public libraries.

You can also contact the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee directly at 615-353-4235.

April 5 is the deadline for homeowners seeking a property tax freeze or property tax relief. A property tax freeze is for homeowners 65 or older with a joint income of less than $41,660 for 2015.

Property tax relief would provide reimbursements from that state and Davidson County depending on the homeowner’s situation.

To qualify the homeowners must be 65 or older, disabled, or disabled veterans with a joint income less than $29,180 for 2015.

You can apply in person at the Davidson County Trustee’s Office with all the required documentation listed here. You can also apply at three neighborhood sites in March.