NASHVILLE'S AFFORDABLE HOUSING SOLUTION
Many of the tenants that live in units built and maintained by Urban Housing Solutions aren’t accustomed to the luxury of having a roof above their head. In fact, the concept for the organization was so foreign that when Rusty Lawrence, founder of Urban Housing Solutions, first started building housing for the homeless back in 1990, it took nine banks to finance such a “high-risk” project.
“The proliferation of homelessness, at that point in time—it was just magnified,” Lawrence said. “Nobody had ever developed permanent housing for homeless people, and we did.”
Today, these problems are just as magnified. Rent prices in Nashville have increased 70 percent since 2011 while the average income of individuals living in the city has increased just 14 percent. By the year 2025, there is expected to be a housing shortage of 31,000 units in the city. This is where Urban Housing Solutions comes in.
“Urban Housing Solutions takes innovative and creative approaches to solving the affordability crisis amongst our lowest income residents in Nashville,” John Gregory, Chairman of the Board for Urban Housing Solutions, “We have, currently, roughly 1,400 units, and the board wants to double in size in five years.”
The average rent cost for a one-bedroom apartment in Nashville is $1,250. However, those that qualify to rent a unit in an Urban Housing Solutions complex pay an average of just $480.
With more than 8,000 people served by the organization, Urban Housing Solutions has already left a grand legacy in the city of Nashville. But, as they look to the future, they know there is a lot more work to be done.
“I don’t think we’ll ever be satisfied with where we are, because in a good economy or a bad economy, there’s going to be a need for affordable housing,” Lawrence said. “But, we are happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish.