tennesseanIn response to the Tennessean’s January 19th article, “Nashville needs more affordable housing now, alliance says” and the March 15th article in anticipation of the Mayoral Race in Nashville, “Affordable housing emerges as key issue in mayor’s race“.

Let me start with my background:  I spent 4 years working with under-resourced families in East Nashville. I lived on the lower-income side of 37206 by choice, moving from a posh lakefront lake-view in Hendersonville to ‘live as they live, do as they do’ when I felt like my life had to be more than just sitting by a lake when there were families out there that were struggling. My presence was based around mentorship of young people, and my home was open to young people, almost 24/7 and featured by the Tennessean.

I also have spent a great deal of time working with the homeless here and in Los Angeles, with a great range of top notch organizations.

 

“Most know the story by now: The decadelong run that has brought Nashville national accolades as a destination city has upended neighborhoods. It has ushered in a new class of people and pricier homes into Davidson County’s inner core, raised property values and rent, and displaced those who can’t afford to stay.

We know this pattern as gentrification — a word that’s become central to Nashville’s identity these days.

But now, a coalition of some of Nashville’s most influential voices against poverty is out to slow this cycle”

Nashville needs more affordable housing now, alliance says“, January 19, 2015 Tennessean

 

My first thought is this: Affordable housing will bring down property values. It’s a first world problem but that argument would be made. And then I saw who was heading up the coalition that is voicing these concerns.

An alliance known as A VOICE — founded by Avi Poster, a retired school principal and well-known Nashville community activist, and Marsha Edwards, CEO of the Martha O’Bryan Center — hopes to build a citywide movement around its message — that now is the time for action to ensure more housing options in Nashville. A VOICE, whose mission is to reduce poverty, plans to kick off a series of public forums. Members have already begun soliciting support and endorsements from city leaders

Nashville needs more affordable housing now, alliance says“, January 19, 2015 Tennessean

When I saw that Marsha Edwards of the Martha O’Bryan Center was involved, my thought then turns to this:  Instead of ‘affordable housing’ which often imprisons people, which lines the pockets of developers, builders, and corporations – which causes Payday Loan, Pawn Shops, and other slow-income places to sprout almost overnight, why not take all that money and raise a VOICE for mentorship, support for educators in Metro Nashville, our charter schools like KIPP Academy and private schools like Franklin Classical Academy. Empower educators private and public, mentorship programs private, public, and faith based, and many others, to change our community. We can either change a community by changing the people, or change a community by changing the buidlings. Which change do we want?

Why not empower people, to rise from the need for affordable housing? From job training programs, to the excellent mentorship the Martha O’Bryan Center offers (of which I was permitted to participate in via a Young Entrepenurship Training program a few years back),  the Nashville Entrepenurship program downtown, adult training programs, and more? Anywhere we can mentor youth, teens, and adults, anywhere we can help them rise above the need for affordable housing, wouldn’t that be better then being in the trappings of affordable housing?

I am all for mentorship, now ironically I was rejected from Big Brothers Big Sisters for having too much mentorship going on that they felt I couldn’t serve another young person. But for everyone else, why not pour money into organizations like that, and so many others, so we raise a generation that doesn’t need affordable housing?

I understand the need for affordable housing now, I get that, but there should be a day when it’s a ‘triage’ not a ‘solution’ and that society begins to value ‘people’ enough to pour more resources into them, than into bricks and mortar.