Nashville housing boom strains neighborhoods

Leasing Lifestyle: Wall Street investors have snapped up thousands of homes in Nashville Tennessee to convert them to rentals, and observers are wondering what effect they’ll have on neighborhoods.

A professor at Tennessee State University has teamed up with another researcher to systematically study the phenomenon.

They want to figure out whether these real estate investment trusts, or REITs, drive up sales prices because of increased competition and worsen the region’s affordable housing crisis. In the neighborhoods they target, do fewer people own their own homes? Do REITs increase rents at a faster pace than others? And what type of neighborhoods do the companies pick in the first place?

“More and more there’s concern in the community that, as the homeownership rate declines, it’s no longer a poor person’s or a working poor person’s concern. It’s a crisis in general,” said Ken Chilton, associate professor in the Department of Public Administration at TSU. “We’d like to spark a larger community debate about housing and housing affordability.”

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