Housing search for RiverChase residents shows city’s shortcomings

For the handful of RiverChase apartment residents who have yet to find permanent alternative accommodation, time is running out.

Negotiations between the new owner of the property and a coalition of local labor groups have failed. The remaining residents of the East Nashville complex have been notified that demolition will begin in July.

Texas-based developer Cypress Real Estate Advisors (CREA) has contracted with the People’s Alliance for Transit, Housing and Jobs (PATHE) and the Salvation Army to help families in RiverChase move, but That process ran into a problem: Advocates say the housing these families need is in short supply in Nashville.

Freeman Webb, the company that runs RiverChase on behalf of CREA, said it has set and pushed back several moving deadlines, provided cash incentives to move out, and has no plans to evict tenants for lack of payment. .

“The overall time frame is when we have placed the last resident in suitable housing,” the company said in an email to the Tennessean on Thursday.

There are approximately 19 residents remaining and approximately 70% of the property’s residents have been assisted in some way by housing navigators. Freeman Webb is “committed to achieving 100%,” the company said. Some residents have been relocated to Freeman Webb properties. Others reportedly refused help.

The tension between inbound developers and housing advocates is a citywide phenomenon, heightened by the shortage of affordable housing in Nashville.

“For the past six months, (I’ve) seen every day behind the scenes of a developer who is actually trying to do the right thing,” a member of the PATHE team told the Metro Council on Tuesday evening. . “The accommodation is not there.”

She said the best intentions of CREA, PATHE, the Salvation Army and the Council were not enough, calling the Council an “accomplice” to her piecemeal approach to housing affordability and child abuse prevention. roaming.

“It’s not specific to RiverChase,” she said. “It’s Nashville.”

RiverChase apartments were protected by low-income housing tax credits until around 2017, when the then owners filed for restitution of the low-income rental property at market rates, The 212 units were rented at market price, but were accessible to people who may have evictions on their record or other barriers to traditional housing, according to District 5 council member Sean Parker.

Even as the buildings deteriorated, they provided a small enclave of increasingly scarce accessible housing near downtown Nashville.

Plywood barricades now block the doors and windows of most emptied units.

Public hearing on zoning bill postponed

A representative for Freeman Webb, who took over management of the property two years ago, knocked on a resident’s door on June 30, offering a month-long hotel stay, the former organizer said. from PATHE, Melissa Cherry, to the members of the council.

On Tuesday morning, the rep returned, offering two weeks in a hotel and an ultimatum to move out by Wednesday morning, Cherry said. The woman who lived in the unit didn’t know where her next meal would come from, let alone where she could live.

Freeman Webb said the interactions were “taken out of context” and the rep knocked on the door to check if the apartment was vacant. The resident requested a hotel and Freeman Webb accepted the request as the company works to find permanent accommodation, Freeman Webb said.

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The company prepays hotel rooms for extended stays two weeks at a time, and the resident was allowed to temporarily return to her apartment.

“The goal, as it always has been, is to help this resident and all other RiverChase residents transition into a new home,” Freeman Webb said.

Cherry said she quit her job at PATHE to help the remaining residents of RiverChase because she couldn’t do that and work for the PATHE and CREA development team at the same time.

“These people need more than platitudes,” Cherry said. “They need more than a deposit. They need healing.”

CREA plans to build a mixed-use project with up to 1,150 multi-family residential units on the nearly 15-acre property. The development would cover the corner of Dickerson Pike and Meridian Street, a set of plots that have become increasingly valuable due to their proximity to the city center and proposed redevelopment projects on the east bank.

ACI could not be reached for comment.

Parker postponed Tuesday’s public hearing on the project’s zoning bill to early August after consulting with CREA to allow another community meeting.

Community benefits deal falls apart

A community benefits deal between CREA and a coalition of local unions and neighborhood groups collapsed in June due to housing affordability issues.

Stand Up Nashville, Laborers International Union of North America, The Equity Alliance, SEIU Local 205, Nashville Organized for Action and Hope and the McFerrin Park Neighborhood Association called for an agreement that would allow residents of RiverChase to return to the neighborhood.

CREA’s plans include 250 affordable residential units, and RiverChase residents would have first option on those units, Freeman Webb said.

Stand Up Nashville initially pushed for these units to be affordable for people at 30% of the area median income (AMI), but said they would accept affordability up to 65% of the AMI. CREA has offered affordable units to those earning 80% AMI (about $75,450 a year), according to a June statement from Stand Up Nashville.

At that price, RiverChase residents could not afford to return to the property after its development, according to Tamika White, director of programs and special projects at The Equity Alliance.

General council member Sharon Hurt thanked the women for speaking out on Tuesday, adding that council members are “doing everything we can” to address housing issues, within rules and regulations.

“I don’t want people to think we’re not here, hearing you and not feeling compassion, but we’re limited in the things we do,” Hurt said.

Arcelia Martin contributed to it.

Cassandra Stephenson covers metropolitan government for The Tennessean. Contact her at [email protected] Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CStephenson731.

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