What makes Urban Housing Solutions (UHS) different? We’re an agency on a mission to provide as much affordable housing as we can. We are a 28-year-old nonprofit organization that tries to fill some of the unique housing gaps that exist in Nashville. We are part “housing developer,” part “property manager,” and part “social worker.” We currently own 33 properties that comprise 1,400 apartments across Davidson County. Four hundred of our units are occupied by people who were previously homeless, and another 150 apartments serve people with special housing needs (deaf, disabled, or extremely poor). Our social service staff of seven provides these individuals with supportive services and connections to care that help them live independently. The rest of the units are occupied by working Nashvillians – healthcare, construction, hospitality workers, and their families – who simply need an affordable place to live near work.
From the very beginning, Urban Housing has created new forms of housing for Nashville. This started when we purchased an old, dilapidated motel on Murfreesboro Road, rehabbed it and offered the first permanent housing opportunity for homeless individuals in the state of Tennessee. It took nine banks to finance the acquisition and rehab because the project seemed so risky, but we prevailed and helped 170 previously homeless people off the street and into apartments. We continue to operate this property today, allowing our neighbors to live in stable, supportive housing as they get back on their feet.
Our next projects created housing for people living with HIV/AIDS (another first in Tennessee) and those beset by mental illness. For many years, UHS combined federal and state grants with loans to buy distressed properties, rehab them, and rent them to people with very low incomes. However, with the growing intensity of the affordable housing shortage in our city, we have ramped up our acquisition and construction of new affordable housing in recent years.
In the past, our properties provided no more than 20 units – now we’re able to create as many as 275 new units in a single project! Using tax credit programs and grants from Nashville’s Barnes Housing Trust Fund for nonprofit housing developers, we have been able to add over 400 apartments to our portfolio over the last two years. We plan to add another 400 units over the next three years.
Our staff is as unique as our housing portfolio. When we add property managers and leasing staff, we look for compassionate people who want to make a difference. We have divinity school graduates, social work majors, and previous residents working in our property management and administrative divisions. Our staff works for more than a paycheck – they work because they want to help.
We are constantly on the lookout for properties where we can preserve “islands” of affordable housing in areas where rents are skyrocketing. For example, we own six properties in the popular East Nashville neighborhood, and our rents remain below $500 per month – roughly $1,000 below the average. So if any of you reading this story have a property you are ready to sell and want to help “save a little space” for all Nashvillians, give UHS a chance to make you an offer!