Real estate boom in Nashville leaves high demand for affordable housing

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The growth in Nashville affects almost all of us—some in a positive way, but for others it’s quite the opposite.

Organizations like Habitat for Humanity are struggling to keep up with the demand for affordable housing.

If you already own a home in Nashville, the rest estate boom is good news. The value of your home is probably going way up.

But that’s not the case for everyone, especially those who are trying to buy their first home.

“It is kind of a bad side. People are being left behind,” said Danny Herron, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity in Nashville.

That’s the challenge the organization is facing right now: too many people need affording housing, and there’s just not enough to go around.

“Their payments are going up, property taxes are going up, and their income is not going up to the same level,” explained Herron.

Danny Herron, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity in Nashville (Photo: WKRN)

And there’s no relief in sight.

“Greater Nashville real estate numbers–we have 1.2 months of inventory in housing. Usually in a market, a year to 18 months is normal. Nashville is 1.2 months of inventory. We basically have almost every house filled,” Herron told News 2.

In the crazy, competitive market, Habitat for Humanity is purchasing land 5 years in advance, and the cost to develop that land has nearly doubled.

“What cost us 5 years ago to buy the lot and develop the lot might have been $35,000. Today that same lot is costing us $65,000,” Herron said.

Habitat is forced to look further and further outside the city.

“They are getting applications from Nashvillians for Crossville because they have nowhere to go,” said Herron.

But that presents another problem: transportation back into the city and other public resources aren’t always available.

And the number of applicants alone is higher than ever. Three years ago, there were 800 applications. Now, that number is at 1,100.

Herron told News 2, “We almost have to shut it off very quickly. We just get overwhelmed by the applications of people that qualify.”

Tanika Robinson, a Nashville native, is patiently waiting.

“We have had several different dates, but it’s still worth the wait,” she said. “The builders are very busy, so I think it’s like a lot of people getting homes right now.”

But she’s staying busy. Robinson is a single mother-of-two who works full-time in school guidance counseling. She’s also going to school to become a nurse.

“The whole process in general, that me as a single mom can provide a home for my kids and it will be affordable and hopefully we can have it for years to come,” she said.

For those who don’t get into the program , Metro Development and Housing works to find rentals or subsidized homes, but where do these people go if they want to own a home?

(Photo: WKRN)

Herron says the answer might be downsizing to townhomes.

“Instead of doing 5 houses per acre, we can do 20 to 25 houses per acre,” he explained.

However these problems are solved, the key is that we try, because the American dream should most certainly be attainable in Nashville.

“Our greatest asset is our home, and if you can’t afford a home and we don’t provide that opportunity, you missed out on a tremendous growth and opportunity,” Herron added.

For the last 30 years in Nashville, Habitat for Humanity has helped more than 700 families become first-time home buyers.

The homeowners qualify for a fixed, conventional mortgage, are required to take classes and volunteer to build other homes, as well as their home.

Click here to learn more about Habitat for Humanity.