Nashville's housing director Jim Harbison says he isn't worried quite yet about the federal government's proposal to raise rents for low income households. Responding to U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson's controversial plan, Harbison said it's too early for his office to take the proposal seriously.
"Well, there are many things that can keep you up at night. And if you take them all in you never get to sleep," Harbison said. "When it becomes a material effort in our Congress for this to occur, we'll really dig into it and we will weigh in."
Last week the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an analysis of the plan. It estimated that in the nation's 100 largest metro areas, low income tenants would have to pay about 20 percent more each year for rent if the proposal passed. For Nashville, the analysis concludes, that would be $840 more a year, or 24 percent. And it could impact nearly 25,000 households here.
This is all happening as Nashville embarks on a massive overhaul to its public housing, transferring its entire portfolio of properties from the federal government into the hands of the local housing authority. In turn, this allows the city to leverage the land for a much-needed cash infusion and use that capital to rehab the aging units. The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency has told residents that despite the shift, rents will stay the same. But the passage of Carson's proposal could mean MDHA has to renege on the promise.