The Cayce Homes Conundrum

Whenever the city announces that it’s going to tear down a crime filled neighborhood I cannot help but think it’s a good idea – for a while anyway.   Thinking deeper about the consequences, I don’t feel so positive about it.  Such a thing really is a mixed bag.

The demolition and “revitalization” of the Cayce Homes, one of Nashville’s largest and most notorious “Projects” (where many of the city’s poor and disadvantaged are sequestered),  has been known of for some time.  What was revealed in this morning’s Tennessean, about the city’s plans for the area, was a surprise.

A few years ago, with the help of a Hope VI grant, another such crime ridden “Projects” was demolished and replaced with very nice townhome style apartments.   Improving the look and condition of the housing units was enough to transform that neighborhood and the people living there.   One problem, though, was that the new design eliminated several units, making it less crowded.  But that also meant that many residents were displaced, making them vulnerable to homelessness.

With the announcement that Cayce Homes was going to be demolished, a few advocates and community organizers became involved, creating a citizen’s group of current Cayce Homes residents that would stand up for the rights of everyone who lived there.  Their main concern was the potential loss of housing units, causing even more of the already marginalized to become vulnerable to homelessness.

Then today, the article in the Tennessean says that developers are looking to potentially triple the number of new housing units, over what is currently there.    (I sure as I read this, my head turned to the side, like a dog does when it hears an unfamiliar sound.)

Cayce Homes is already a highly dense neighborhood, and no doubt it has contributed to the crime rate there.  What the residents need there is less density, without losing the number of housing units.   The developers are implying that their particular plan, though it increases density, will not negatively affect the residents.   I’d like to see proof of that.

I’ve been around long enough to know some of how local, good-ol’-boy politics works in Nashville.  Whatever the city show the public with one hand, you’ve got to know that something else is going on in its other hand, something that they aren’t showing the public.

Here is what I think.   Directly across the river from the Cayce Homes is another notorious “Projects” neighborhood.   Due to other recent developments, the Napier Projects now sits in close proximity to an area of down slated for major redevelopment – high end townhomes and the like.    My educated guess is that the city plans to eventually move everyone out of the Napier Projects and relocate them to the expanded Cayce Homes.    Then the “poor” people will no longer be anywhere near the wealthy people whom the city hopes will move into the fancy townhomes and lofts, etc.

Here is the article in the Tennessean.


About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless
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