White flight is the term used to describe how the white middle class left the inner cities to live in the suburbs.  This happened in the 1950’s and 60’s after the segregation laws changed in our country.  As a result, many of the buildings became condemned and jobs in the inner city left.  Property values declined and tax revenue in the city declined.  Many of the city services and social programs were then cut.  This left the inner city and the people that lived there in a horrible condition.  Currently, there is a new vitalization happening in our inner cities.  The White Flight has now reversed and many of the white citizens in the suburbs are purchasing properties in the inner city below market value, renovating the buildings and selling them to the highest bidder.  This raises the property value and the taxes on those of us that never left.  This trend is happening all over the country and is called Gentrification.

What happens when you wake up to discover you no longer can afford to live in your home?  A home where your family may have lived for generations.  According to appartmentlist.com, Nashville Tennessee has the 5th fastest growing rent rate at 7.3%.  The city of Nashville needs 1,500 additional affordable units each year to meet the new demand.  Our community has approximately 77,000 below the median income rate and are spending more than one third of their income on housing.  There are approximately 27,000 living in public or subsidized housing and there are thousands of more waiting to be added.

What can be done to support our communities?  We should partner with organizations that address issues such as financial dependency on financial institutions that are not banks like check cashing businesses.  Unfortunately, we look to these businesses for help because we cannot get help from traditional banks.  Have you noticed how these check cashing businesses have popped up in our neighborhoods more often than grocery stores?

There are organizations we can partner with that deal with unemployment and urban deterioration.  There are public and private agencies available to implement workforce and economic development projects of which deserve our support.

There is so much potential in our community.  It seems other people see more value in it than we do.  That is what is happening with gentrification.  Our property is being bought, re-zoned and sold because of the location and we are quick to let it go.  We need to think strategically and be prepared for our future.  Visitors come to our community to eat in our restaurants and buy our art.  Strategic thinking is needed to take advantage of this to benefit our families and future generations to come.  If we do not, then we are just giving our property away and are not leaving anything for future generations.

If these things inspire you, and you want to share your ideas, please feel free to contact me thomsustainableconsulting@gmail.com or you can follow me on Twitter @tcsheff.