Despite promises to keep units affordable, a developer has pumped up the prices at two apartment complexes in South Nashville. The rent increase, and forced exit from developers, left tenants scrambling to find affordable housing.
Only a few tenants now remain at Premier West after Covenant Capital earlier this year gave renters notice to vacate the property for what the developer deemed necessary repairs. No renters remain at Prestige Pointe.
Renters in both complexes received 60-day notices to vacate the property. Prestige Pointe residents negotiated a 60-day extension, then an extension opportunity was made available to Premier West residents who went to Covenant Capital in-person seeking an extension, according to advocacy group Homes 4 All Nashville.
Idella Woodard, former resident of Premier West, says Covenant Capital offered her an extension, but with stipulations.
“First they said, ‘no,’ then they drew up a letter stating I could get an extension that allowed them to do whatever renovations necessary (while I was living there),” Woodard explained.
She was concerned about the types of repairs that would be going on, especially because she had three boys in the unit.
Woodard eventually negotiated with Covenant Capital to earn her an extension and at least three days notice prior to repairs being made on the unit.
She recently found a new home around the corner, limited to where she could move within her boys’ school district and by what she could afford.
While still living in Premier West, her rent under Covenant Capital jumped from $925 a month to $1125 a month. Now she’s paying $1899 for a smaller space.
“It’s been the most stressful time of my life,” Woodard said. “It’s the total shifting of your life without any preparation or enough notification.”
Austin Sauerbrei, of Homes 4 All Nashville, emphasized that many of the tenants have been forced to move on to much more expensive properties as the city lacks adequate affordable housing.
“People are now paying 50 to 60 percent of their income compared to 30 percent and are further outside of the city,” he said.
He estimates tenants each spent between $1,500 and $2,000 in relocation costs including application fees and deposits.
Covenant Capital has maintained that the complexes were in “bankruptcy and disrepair,” and many units were uninhabitable before the group acquired the complexes.
“We’ve worked here to restore, renovate and extend the life of Nashville's affordable housing stock by saving these two bankrupt sites that could have easily been torn down due to disrepair or priced out of affordable,” said Covenant Capital CEO Govan White.
In previous media interviews, White stated the rates at the properties would “remain classified as affordable under Metro and HUD’s guidelines based on Metro Nashville’s Median Income.”
Affordable housing, as defined by Metro, is housing that is 30 percent or less of total income for households that earn 60 percent or less of Davidson County’s median household income. Davidson County’s MHI is $47,434, which means the county’s affordable housing is housing for individuals or families earning under $28,460 per year. Under Metro’s affordable housing guidelines, units should be priced around $711 per month.
Rental prices at Premier West, renamed Apex Nashville, are currently $1,029 for a one-bedroom and $1,899 for a three-bedroom, according to Apex’s website. White said the net effective rent including concessions and one month free is $1,741 for a three-bedroom and $944 for a one-bedroom. Pricing is not available for Prestige Pointe as renovations continue.
White maintains that these prices are affordable.
For Sauerbrei, this is just another example of developers taking advantage of renters and depleting Nashville’s already stressed affordable housing stock.
He calls it a moral issue.
“The challenge is that we’re seeing it happen all over the city,” Sauerbrei said.
Amelia Ferrell Knisely can be reached at email@example.com.
Cover photo: The inside of the newly renovated Apex Nashville West apartments. Image via www.apartments.com.