Organizing to stay in my neighborhood

Toni Smith of Park at Hillside Tenants' Association (PHTA) reflects on the changing city and her future hopes.

I have been a part of Park at Hillside Tenant Association since its inception late last year. Having lived here for the past four years with three owners during that time, I was justifiably concerned. Now that Nashville has been recognized as a new “IT CITY,” I worried about the fate of affordable housing in the Metro Area. Seeing new square shaped developments arising in every nook and cranny, I wondered about the general future of affordability. The cost of inner-city land has so dramatically sky rocketed that organizations such as Habitat for Humanity have opted out citing financial infeasibility.

Homes for All Nashville = Park at Hillside tenants want to resist displacement

Like the influx of out of state and rural residents imploding Nashville, we too wish to continue to enjoy the convenience of the metro location. If I am unable to drive, I can access three metro buses in a three block radius. I can walk to and from concerts downtown and avoid the nightmare of parking. I can walk half a mile to the local library. I can walk to the YMCA. A grocery store is in walking distance as well. Why should we be kicked to the curb for outsiders with no ties to the land?

PHTA has given me a platform to voice my concerns. I can speak from a collective with others in my community who share my plight. Our greatest fear was that of gentrification with the displacement of all current residents. As the city experiences growth, affordable housing is proportionally pushed to the city outskirts in rural areas. This forces many existing residents who have lived here as tenants up to 25 years and those born and raised here out of their own community.

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Through ongoing dialogue, and face to face meetings with the new owners we are hopeful that we can be included in any future developments and remain in our neighborhood. Though the outlook has brightened through negotiations and owners have agreed to include us, something important is lacking. Ultimately, words carry only so much weight and we are eager to have the promise of inclusion in a legally binding written document. Then and only then can we have peace and feel a since of ease about our futures.

I would like to take the time to thank the Elmington Group. for their engagement in this process. We also can’t speak highly enough of the Homes for All organization that gave us the impetus to go forward. It has given us the confidence to harness our voices and come together as a united front for the common good


Homes For All Nashville - Organizing for tenants' rights

With the increasing number of calls for organizing support, our small team of volunteer/in-kind organizers are functioning beyond capacity. HomesForAll is in desperate need of a dedicated staff person to aid in on-the-ground organizing and communications. We are so thrilled to be hiring Kennetha Patterson! ...but we need YOUR help reach our fundraising goal!