By Thomas Sheffield
Many residents of Nashville have been told in no certain terms, to get out of our neighborhoods, get out of those houses, get out of our community, get out of our city, just get out! Nashville’s rapid growth has caused developers to look for and come up with creative ways to force us out of town. It has become so bad, we have become short sighted and believe we have little or few options.
The Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act, which were passed in the 1960’s prohibited discrimination in election politics and in the sale, rental or financing of property. The laws were created to transition from being defined by racial terror and inequities in order for the society to fulfill its promise to give opportunities to everyone. I dare say this has worked to some extent. However, the discrimination has now changed from race to economic class. What race of people are stuck for the most part in the middle and lower class? You guessed right, people of color.
Developers know desperate people will do anything just to make it to next week rather than a five or 10 year plan. They will come to you with a cash offer for your home or property. You may be behind on your mortgage loan, your home may need repairs you cannot afford to pay for, you may need to get your car fixed or may be behind in alimony payments. When a cash offer comes to solve those short term problems, it is tempting to take that offer.
If the offer does not work, they may look for legal ways to get you out. Nashville’s Environmental Court was created in 2001 to address violations pertaining to buildings, trash, and debris in people’s yards and businesses. Complaints will magically appear in an effort to get you out or off your property. I for one am for a clean environment and believe we should all be good neighbors and do what is needed to add value to our community. However, guess who seems to be targeted when it comes to violations? People of color and people who can ill afford to pay any fines. All of the sudden, here comes another offer to solve any problems you may have.
History has taught us white people can and will turn their backs on racial progress quicker than a hiccup. But this problem effects the middle class and poor white people too. This should force us to work together. We have an opportunity to come up with some common solutions to level the playing field and not allow the rich to become richer. A rising tide to lift all boats. When this happens, we not only increase the quality of life but cut costs associated with living it. I encourage you to exercise your right to vote not just every four years but in every election because your vote is the only way we can tell land barons to Get Out!!!
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @tcsheff.