Brent Elrod, Director of Planning and Development for Urban Housing Solutions and State Senator Brenda Gilmore were featured speakers at the groundbreaking for a new housing for seniors with low-to-moderate incomes. Photo by Clare Bratten

By Clare Bratten

NASHVILLE, TN — People age 62 and up will be able to find affordable housing in a new development complex being built in North Nashville slated for completion in summer of 2020. Fifty-five rental units in a contemporary complex (complete with a rooftop solar panels) will be located at 26th and Clarksville as Phase III in what will be a three-building complex with multigenerational housing.  Phases I is built and Phase II opens this summer. A Phase III ground breaking marked the beginning of the new construction.

Rendering of new housing

The facility called “TN-SILVER” (which is an acronym for “Supportive Integrated Living for Vulnerable Elderly Renters”) will include health and wellness support that will help older residents live independently. The project is being developed by Urban Housing Solutions as part of their affordable housing project at the site after consulting with non profit agencies who advocate for seniors and finding solutions.

“We always talk about aging in place, but Tennessee is a state that ranks 43rd in senior health – it also ranks in the 40s in services and support systems. That puts seniors attempting to age in place at risk in our communities, extremely vulnerable,” said Vickie Harris, one of the consultants for the project. Harris, an expert on senior health and wellness was chair of the board for the Council on Aging in Tennessee, and now is founder and CEO for Community ConneXor. “This state ranks high in cardio vascular diabetes and diabetes. So, low income older adults are highly represented in that category,” said Harris.

“Just being a senior creates vulnerability because of multiple chronic conditions. What we have is the integration of housing as a base, because we need safe affordable housing for seniors, then we’re adding to that – technology. As their chronic conditions begin to take their tolls (such as falls), how do we use technology that creates a communication link to those who may be able to assist quicker,” said Harris.

The third layer that Urban Housing Solutions is adding to TN SILVER is supportive service coordination.  The housing development will include a clinic which will help seniors navigate other health services available to them. “I don’t know if you’ve tried to navigate our community resource ecosystem. In fact, I’m not even sure we could call it a system. It’s a lot of great organizations doing work, but as an individual, you must go to each one of those agencies. Older adults do not have that capacity. So TN SILVER truly is an innovation comprehensive solution at a time when Nashville is in the midst of an affordable housing shortage and experiencing a rapidly expanding population of low and moderate income older adults. We know when we look around the North Nashville area that hundreds of North Nashville older adults have excessive housing costs and/or are living in housing with serious physical problems,” said Harris.

Tracy Patton, Director of Community Housing Services at Urban Housing Solutions described other amenities of the complex.  “The addition of a shaded pedestrian walkway with ample seating, a community building with classes with intergenerational programming, an onsite clinic will elevate the continual care that promotes long term health care for our residents at 26th and Clarksville.”

Brent Elrod, Director of Planning and Development for Urban Housing Solutions said the emphasis on senior housing was new for Urban Housing Solutions and this project was slated for completion in summer of 2020.

 “We’ve never actually developed an intentional senior housing project project . . .Urban Housing Solutions is a private non-profit which builds affordable housing. Over the last couple of years, we’ve been lucky to happy support and guidance from local experts here who are more familiar with the needs of the senior community and make this a real model for the rest of the state,” said Elrod.

 Elrod said his group consulted with non-profits who were knowledgeable about the needs of the older community members such as Vickie Harris, Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, Council on Aging, Fifty Forward, AARP, Senior Ride, Vanderbilt School of Nursing, and Tennessee State University.

Elrod recognized the government and corporate partners who are financing, designing, landscaping parts of the TN SILVER complex. The Tennessee Housing Development Agency awarded the low-income housing tax credits for this project, Pinnacle Bank who purchased the tax credits and provided the construction loan. Metropolitan Development Housing Agency awarded 52 project-based vouchers and Fifth Third Bank supported the rooftop solar array.

“We’ve got a great development team working on this project: the Danielian Associates architects, as well as David Baker Architects for contributing their design vision,” said Elrod.