Saturday, December 7, 2019

Mayor Cooper Announces Approval of Most Recent Barnes Fund Grant Recipients. Affordable housing advocates not happy.

Metro press release, 12/3/2019- Mayor Cooper today announced that the Metro Housing Trust Fund Commission has approved recommendations from the Barnes Application Review Committee for a new round of grants to support the development and rehabilitation of 549 affordable housing units in Nashville. In response to fiscal pressures highlighted by the state comptroller, the Mayor’s Office has awarded a partial round of $5 million in Barnes Fund grants.

Mayor Cooper is hopeful that with potential budget savings and efficiencies, Metro can back an additional round of awards in the spring of 2020 using excess fund balance for this fiscal year. Taking current budget pressures into account, a primary objective of the Mayor’s Office is to avoid widespread personnel changes and interruption of vital city services.

“Even with our current budget difficulties, we are pleased to announce that the Barnes Fund will make grant awards due to their critical importance to housing affordability in our city,” said Mayor Cooper. “The Barnes Fund is a critical part of making sure that affordable housing is at the center of everything we do in Nashville. Providing housing stability for our children, taking stress off our local workforce, and creating opportunities for seniors to remain in their communities are all goals that help achieve a stronger Nashville for all of us.”

Under the Barnes Housing Fund requirements, eligible projects must create or preserve affordable housing opportunities in Nashville-Davidson County, Tennessee. Projects must be affordable to households with incomes at or below 60% area median income for rental projects and at or below 80% of the area median income adjusted for family size for homebuyer projects.

Organizations that will receive funds include:

  • Our Place, 
  • Affordable Housing Resources, 
  • Habitat for Humanity Nashville, 
  • Woodbine, 
  • Westminster, 
  • Be a Helping Hand, 
  • and Living Design Concepts. 
Since inception, the Barnes Fund has invested $37 million in affordable housing development and rehabilitation and has leveraged over $186 million of federal and private funding to construct more than 1,700 housing units.
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Violated their trust:' developers denounce Mayor Cooper's cut to the Barnes Fund 

The Tennessean - … But on Tuesday, Cooper announced he is slashing nearly half of the city's annual funding it sends to the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing, which offers city dollars to grant incentives to Nashville developers who pursue projects priced affordably. … Of the nearly $10 million the Metro Council — including Cooper while serving on council — approved for this year, Cooper said only $5 million will be awarded because of the "fiscal pressures" facing the city and highlighted by the state comptroller. …… While city leaders, stakeholders and affordable housing advocates say they understand the circumstances surrounding the budget Cooper inherited, many say trust has been broken and the mayor could have, and should have, made the decision with more input and transparency. ….

Cooper's announcement came as a blow to the Metro Housing Trust Fund Commission, which was only alerted of the funding cut just an hour ahead of its meeting Tuesday to approve this year's grant recipients. "It was a shock," Commissioner Kaki Friskics-Warren told The Tennessean. "It was demoralizing for our nonprofit artners and others who have spent hours of work into this."  (read more)

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