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Mayor John Cooper Launches Affordable Housing Task Force

1/12/2021

Group Will Focus on Policy, Access, Financing, Land Use

Mayor John Cooper today announced he’ll engage 21 housing experts in his mission to create better and more affordable housing for Nashville.

The group will meet on Thursday, January 21. Their recommendations will inform the 2022 fiscal year budget plan that Mayor John Cooper will make later this year to Metro Council.

“Nashville’s housing needs are urgent,” Mayor John Cooper said. “By working together and listening to one another, we can find solutions that work best for Nashville’s neighborhoods.”

The Task Ahead

Mayor John Cooper’s team, as well as the Metro Planning Department, the Metro Development and Housing Authority (MDHA) and other city agencies will support the task force as they focus on:

Policy

  • How can Nashville preserve and create affordable housing that benefits all residents at different income levels?
  • How can the city tie affordable housing to other community investments, such as transportation, libraries and schools?
  • How can nonprofit organizations better align their efforts and develop stronger relationships with for-profit builders?

Access

  • How can Metro make it easier for Nashvillians who need affordable housing to get it?

Financing

  • What tools are missing from Nashville’s affordable housing “tool box?”
  • What requests should Nashville make to state and federal partners? What has worked in other cities?

Land Use

  • What policies can help residents remain in their neighborhoods, even as those neighborhoods change?

“With their extensive experience and deep expertise, this group will identify creative, cost-effective financing options and policies to help Nashville meet its growing housing needs,” Mayor John Cooper said.

Doing the Work, Transparently and Inclusively

The task force will meet virtually at 5 p.m. on January 21. Recordings of all task force meetings will be posted to nashville.gov.

Mayor John Cooper has asked the group to make recommendations on how to track the creation of affordable housing units, in keeping with his commitment to transparency.

“This task force represents an important step toward meeting Nashville’s pressing housing needs,” Metro Council Member Burkley Allen said. Allen and Metro Council Member Zulfat Suara will serve on the task force.

“I look forward to working with my colleague, Council Member Suara, and with the other members of this task force to make recommendations to Mayor Cooper and the Metro Council,” Allen said.

As they hear from counterparts in peer cities, task force members will also work with residents who have lived experiences to share about what it’s like to need, seek and find affordable housing in Nashville.

“Nashvillians need help,” Kay Bowers, an MDHA board member, said. Bowers will serve on the task force.

“I’m pleased to be part of a diverse group with the skills, knowledge, and, most of all, commitment to find real solutions to our urgent housing affordability problems,” Bowers said. “I could not be more pleased that Mayor Cooper has recognized that now is the time for Nashville to act.”  

Meet Mayor John Cooper’s Affordable Housing Task Force

Mick Nelson, founder and CEO of Nelson Community Partners, and Edward Henley, III, principal and project executive at Pillars Development, LLC, will co-chair the task force.

“Nashville’s housing needs are critical. Mayor Cooper has assembled a group with the experience and the expertise to identify meaningful solutions to those challenges,” Henley said. “I am eager to get to work and excited by the impact we will make.”

Edward Henley, III

  • Founding Principal, Pillars Development
  • Board Chair, Rebuilding Together
  • Task Force Co-Chair

Mr. Henley is the Founding Principal of Pillars Development, a Nashville- based real estate planning, development, and management firm. His passion is development that brings housing and commercial uses to fruition that better serve communities. His areas of focus currently are in furthering civic and cultural projects, increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in real estate development, and creating resources of information, networking and capital for new and nontraditional investors and developers.

Mick Nelson

  • Founder and CEO, Nelson Community Partners
  • Task Force Co-Chair

Dr. Nelson is founder of Nelson Community Partners, a firm that develops, preserves, and manages affordable housing throughout the southeast. He earned his doctorate from Vanderbilt University, where he focused on affordable housing policy, real estate analysis, and urban development patterns. Mick has been an integral member of the Nashville housing community for more than 15 years, assisting in establishing the Barnes Fund and working at the Tennessee Housing and Development Agency in research, strategy, and asset management. 

Edubina Arce

Agent, Realty of America

Ms. Arce has a long history of an involvement in real estate and civic engagement with the Latinx community. A trained attorney with a Master in Conflict Management, Ms. Arce has worked as a realtor for the past 18 years. From 2010 to 2016, she served as the Bilingual Mediation Program Director for the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center, where among other responsibilities she managed the group´s relationship with Catholic Charities and the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. She holds degrees from the Catholic University of Bogotá, Colombia, Externado University in Bogotá, and Lipscomb University. 

Burkley Allen

At-Large Member and Former Affordable Housing Committee Chair, Metro Council

Ms. Allen is a senior mechanical engineer at IC Thomasson Associates, where she assists with the design of LEED-certified buildings and infrastructure planning. A nine-year veteran of Metro government, Ms. Allen has sponsored legislation to improve stormwater regulations in neighborhoods, protect sidewalk and bikeway access in construction zones, and provide solutions to our housing affordability challenges.

Emel Alexander

Director of Community Development, MDHA

Mr. Alexander is the Director of Community Development at the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency. In this role, Mr. Alexander is responsible for overseeing HUD federal funding appropriated to alleviate homelessness, revitalize neighborhoods and develop high-quality, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families living in Nashville-Davidson County. Mr. Alexander oversees the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, HOME Investment Partnerships program, Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA). Additionally, Mr. Alexander oversees CDBG Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding and HUD funding allocated through the CARES Act legislation to respond to the COVID-dway19 pandemic. Before joining MDHA, Mr. Alexander was the President and CEO of an awarded housing and community development agency in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he led the production of new affordable housing, community development programming, and vital public and private partnerships. Mr. Alexander has 20 years of additional professional experience working within government and nonprofit sectors.

Dwayne Barrett

Managing Member, Reno & Cavanaugh, PLLC

Mr. Barrett is the Managing Member of Reno & Cavanaugh. In his role as Managing Member, Dwayne leads the firm's management committee in strategic planning, firm administration, and practice development. Dwayne has a broad range of transactional experience on issues relating to affordable housing and federal and state tax issues, including: low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) developments, TN community investment tax credits (CITC), tax-exempt bond financing, tax increment financing, Affordable Housing Program (AHP) Funds, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, HOME funds, and mixed-finance transactions. His experience also includes drafting state legislation, structuring numerous joint ventures, and appeals of property tax matters.

Kay Bowers

  • Former Director at New Level CDC
  • Board Member, MDHA

Ms. Bowers has more than 25 years of executive experience with affordable housing organizations. She previously served as the executive director of New Level Community Development Corp., an affordable housing organization affiliated with Mount Zion Baptist Church that builds, sells, and rents affordable homes, as well as providing comprehensive housing services.  

Greg Claxton

Metro Planning Department

Mr. Claxton joined the Planning Department in 2012 as a Community Planner working on NashvilleNext. In 2016, he began leading the department’s Capital Planning and Grants team, focusing on aligning Nashville’s capital improvements and implementation efforts with the General Plan. In addition to serving as a Commission member, Claxton will help support the task force’s data needs.

Dr. Paulette Coleman

  • Board Member, MDHA
  • Member, NOAH

Dr. Coleman is one of Nashville’s leading social justice activists, a certified mediator, and an experienced urban planner. From 2014 to 2019, she chaired the Affordable Housing Task Force of Nashville Organized for Action and Hope, a multi-racial, interdenominational, and faith-based coalition that works for solutions to Nashville’s growing affordable housing crisis. Coleman received her bachelor’s degree from Fordham University and a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Marshall Crawford

President and CEO, The Housing Fund

Mr. Crawford is an experienced nonprofit executive and shares THF’s commitment to help individuals and communities create and maintain affordable and healthy places to live and work. As the President and CEO, his responsibilities include organization leadership and management, strategic planning, resource development, management of loan portfolio and lending operations and community external relations. Prior to The Housing Fund, Crawford served as the president of the housing and multifamily development division of  Community Ventures Corp. in Lexington, Kentucky.

John Deane

Entrepreneur

Mr. Deane is a healthcare-entrepreneur-turned-resort/marina owner. In 1998, he established Southwind Health Partners, a health consulting firm, out of his home in Nashville. Over the course of the following 20 years, it grew into one of the country’s foremost health consulting companies. Today, John divides his time between managing Wildwood Resort & Marina in Granville, Tenn., and being active in a number of civic and social justice organizations, including Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH).  

Gina Emmanuel

  • Principal, Centric Architecture
  • Chair, Housing Trust Fund Commission

Ms. Emmanuel is a principal at Centric Architecture, one of the oldest architecture firms in Middle Tennessee. She serves on the NAIOP and Catholic Charities boards and chairs the Housing Trust Fund Commission. An (almost) lifelong Nashvillian (she moved here at an early age from South Africa), Ms. Emmanuel is involved in affordable housing design and advocacy, as well as neighborhood investment.

Jeremy Heidt

Director of Industry and Governmental Affairs, THDA

Mr. Heidt serves as the primary point of contact between the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and the Tennessee Legislature, the state’s nine U.S. representatives, and Tennessee’s two U.S. Senators. He also works with public housing entities, private developers and financing entities involved in Housing Tax Credit developments. In 2020, he worked with the state legislature to raise the THDA’s debt limit to $4 billion.

Angela Hubbard

Director of Economic and Community Development, Greater Nashville Regional Council

Ms. Hubbard joined the Greater Nashville Regional Council in 2018 and oversees the economic development sector of northern Middle Tennessee. Hubbard has more than 20 years’ experience working with state and local government, previously working at MDHA, serving as the director of community development, and working for the State of Tennessee as a Legislative Performance Auditor. She serves as the lead coordinator for the 13-county Greater National region as it develops a  regional housing assessment.

Kia Jarmon

Founder and CEO, MEPR Agency

Ms. Jarmon is the Agency Director for MEPR Agency, a communications and community engagement firm that specializes in guiding high-capacity leaders, organizations, and systems through the process of designing more resilient programs, processes, and policies. Ms. Jarmon serves on the Metropolitan Beer Permit board, Neighbor to Neighbor board, is a Pathways to Inclusion fellow with the Urban Land Institute Nashville and is co-chair for Give Black, Give Back with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. She is also a consultant with the Center for Nonprofit Management.

Eddie Latimer

CEO, Affordable Housing Resources

A 30-year veteran of the nonprofit housing development industry, Mr. Latimer oversees the development of AHR’s single-family homeownership programs, construction, lending, education and foreclosure. He represents AHR and the need for affordable housing to political organizations and to trade and government affiliates at the local, state and national levels.

Lethia Mann

Vice President and Community Development Manager for Middle and East Tennessee and North Carolina, Regions Bank

Ms. Mann brings more than 18 years of banking, community development, and nonprofit management experience to the task force. Prior to joining Regions, Mann was Vice President and Community Development Manager with First Tennessee Bank. She also served as Vice President with the Nashville Minority Loan Fund for 12 years. A native of Nashville, Mann earned a bachelor of arts degree in Economics from Vanderbilt University. She is a graduate of Whites Creek High School. She is actively engaged in the community, currently serving as board chair of Residential Resources, Inc., and as a board member with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville. Mann is also a commissioner for Metropolitan Nashville and part of the Davidson County Human Relations Commission, as well as an advisory board member of Dismas, Inc., and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

Hunter Nelson

Partner, Elmington Capital Group

Mr. Nelson leads the affordable housing portfolio at Elmington Capital, which focuses on creating affordable and workforce housing opportunities to provide much-needed housing in emerging urban neighborhoods. With an expertise in Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) development, Hunter oversees Elmington’s 4% bond financed and 9% competitive tax credit development portfolio, as well as day-to-day operations, including sourcing new construction and rehabilitation deals, project management, financial analysis, government relations, syndication, and due diligence activities. 

Kelsey Oesmann

Design Initiatives Manager, Urban Housing Solutions

Ms. Oesmann is a licensed architect and the Design Initiatives Manager for Urban Housing Solutions, a leading nonprofit provider of affordable housing. She is the author of the Civic Design Center’s Affordable Housing 101 Toolkit and creator of The Game of Rent.

Zulfat Suara

At-Large Member and Affordable Housing Committee Chair, Metro Council

Ms. Suara has been active in community service and leadership since the late 1990s, even as she continued to work full-time as a certified public accountant. The accounting firm founded by Ms. Suara has worked with county governments in Hardeman, Haywood, Lake, and McNairy counties. She is currently the Executive Director of Grants and Contracts at Meharry Medical College.

Emily Thaden

  • Director of National Policy + Sector Strategy, Grounded Solutions Network
  • Vice Chair for Housing, MDHA

Dr. Thaden is a national affordable housing expert who works in communities across the United States to advance equitable land use and permanently affordable housing solutions. Locally, she has been deeply involved in setting up the Community Land Trust and serving on the MDHA board. She is also the Chair of the Board of Directors for Shelterforce Media and serves on the Public Policy Taskforce for Habitat for Humanity International’s Cost of Home campaign. She advocates on the federal level for affordable housing programs and financing.