By Clare Bratten
NASHVILLE, TN — When Metro Housing Development Authority (MDHA), the Mayor’s office and some non-profits get together to offer affordable housing, D’Juan (Brent) and Brooke Thompson found they were able to move their growing family into a brand-new house in the fast-developing neighborhood north of Metro Center. Even better, they pay a monthly mortgage payment that is affordable.
Mayor David Briley attended a blessing of the new home for the couple given by Rev. Enoch Fuzz along with family and friends of the Thompsons.
“It’s affordable. This is an area where we’re from,” said D’Juan Thompson.
“First we were in an apartment for almost two or three years and you end up paying almost $1200 . . . after a couple of years of being there you have nothing to show for it. If we lived in Section Eight housing we might pay half of that but still you have no equity, …it puts you in a bubble so you can afford it, but you can’t really get out. With the market going up . . . what are you going to do? So the program aligned well with us,” Thompson said.
“As first-time homeowners and first-time graduates in our family—it’s scary after college because. . .are you going to rent in Nashville and pay $1500? We were stuck living in Gallatin, TN because it was cheaper.”
D’Juan Thompson just finished a degree in accounting at Middle Tennessee State University a year and a half ago and Brooke just completed an associate’s degree in nursing at Nashville Community College.
“I’m at AllianceBernstein now,” said Thompson, who with his accounting degree was hired by the asset management company which relocated their headquarters from New York to Nashville a year ago.
D’Juan Thompson is well aware that the transfer of wealth in black families has historically been stymied by the high costs of buying a home, which means those families do not build equity in real estate.
“Another advantage of this program is the equity we can pass on to our son and daughter,” said Thompson. Appreciation and growth of equity in real estate is often the source of much middleclass wealth, according to a November article in Forbes Magazine.
MDHA funding to build affordable housing is granted to non-profit developers and in this case the funding came from the Barnes Fund – a fund set up by former mayor Karl Dean in honor of Bill Barnes, a social activist minister who advocated for affordable housing. The program allows people who meet some requirements to buy a house which will likely appreciate in value. Their income cannot be more than 80 percent of area medium Income and potential mortgage payment cannot be more than 30 percent of the buyer’s gross monthly income.
“The program is really great because it does allow for homebuyers who are have good future financial prospects to afford a home. It was good working with the Thompson family,” said Jeremy Earnest, the Thompson’s realtor from Exit Realty on Music Row.
“This house [already] is worth probably $100,000 more than what we bought into,” said D’Juan. But the program also requires buyers to stay in the home for at least twenty years, after which time the entire appreciation of the house belongs to the buyer. According to Thompson this is likely to stop someone from flipping a house for a quick sale.
“They’ve built nine houses so far, spread out around the town. If you were to sell it before [the contract number of] years, you’d have to sell it for the same discounted price you paid and sell it to someone who also fits the program,” said D’Juan Thompson.
“I think this type of program should be marketed to students in college. I wish I would have done this when I got out of college and, that way, I would have all this equity built up.”