By Maddie VanHorn
(10/19/17)-The population of Williamson County has grown dramatically in the last decade. While the county has accommodated for the growing population by building new schools and expanding roads, it has neglected to provide for the lower classes. Many of the low income families that reach out for help from organizations, like the Franklin Housing Authority, do not receive it, as it currently has “ a waitlist of about 100 people for its properties” (Buie). Not only does the county have an insufficient number of affordable housing units, but many historically poor neighborhoods in Franklin have begun the process of gentrification, the renovation of homes to raise their values and make them more suitable for middle class families. Gentrification causes higher property values and subsequently higher property taxes. Therefore, many underprivileged families can no longer afford to live in Williamson County. To ensure these low-income residents do not lose their homes or their jobs, the county should provide more public housing opportunities.
According to Steve Murray, the Executive Director of Community Housing in Williamson County, it is not only minimum wage earning families that are struggling to find homes, but also “people earning up to 60 percent of the median household income, which in Williamson County is $104,367, the seventh highest median county household income in the country” (Buie). It is unacceptable that even some middle class families cannot afford to live in the county, let alone the lower class workers that we need to fill job positions. In order to preserve our low-income workforce, we must provide more opportunities for these workers to live in the county.
This is becoming increasingly difficult, as higher property taxes are a result of the gentrification of disadvantaged communities and the scarcity of undeveloped land. Residents in communities experiencing gentrification may experience higher taxes than their incomes may be unable to support. If unable to pay, they will likely find cheaper homes in surrounding counties. Nonprofit organizations such as the Community Housing Partnership, Habitat for Humanity, and the Hard Bargain Association, have struggled to buy old houses to remodel due to high competition with builders. The county must step in to help these organizations, as they can more easily compete with these builders buying land.
It is unfair that because of the growing population, families can no longer afford to live in the home that has so much sentimental value to them. Not only do these people have to leave the homes their families have owned for generations, but they must also leave their schools and churches. For people that have lived in Franklin their entire lives, moving may mean a loss of identity, and a hard transition into their new environment.We must provide a more diverse selection of housing options to accommodate for all classes to live here. The number of public housing units in Franklin must be increased to adequately serve the population.
In what ways have you been affected by population growth in Middle Tennessee?
Buie, Jordan. “Williamson Affordable Housing Crunch Hits Working Class Hard.” The Tennessean. The Tennessean, 29 June 2017. www.tennessean.com/story/news/local
class/95966648. Accessed 24 September 2017.