The Nashville Scene recently published the map above, along with a short article about the persistence, and spread, of poverty in Nashville. The map comes from the 114-page “executive summary” of Metro’s Social Services Department’s annual report, and has a lot of very revealing information about “the it city.” Forget the hipster/country music glamour stereotypes–“it’s” about poverty. While about a quarter of our city’s residents have incomes of $100,000 a year or more, another quarter are living at or below the poverty line, with incomes of less than $25,000 a year, including yours truly. The maps show how poverty has spread in Nashville, moving into the suburbs. They are also a good springboard for a discussion of housing policy and zoning.
Gentrification is a major issue in Nashville, often coupled with increased population density, as developers purchase small, older houses on large lots and replace them with structures, frequently duplexes or apartment buildings, that more nearly fill the lot. Although I think greater urban density is a good idea, I don’t think this is the way to go about it, for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are ecological, others are social, others are psychological.