Advancing Equity Through Affordable Housing

November 25, 2021

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To address a critical housing shortage, Nashville must quadruple its current annual affordable housing production by 2030. To support this work, the Planning Department will partner with a FUSE Executive Fellow for one year to develop a comprehensive strategic plan that establishes what an equitable housing system could look like for the city over the next 10-15 years.

This fellowship project begins on October 25, 2021, and ends on October 23, 2022. The fellowship begins with a multi-day virtual orientation the week of October 25, 2021. The selected Executive Fellow will begin their first day of providing services to the host agency on November 1, 2021.


Metropolitan Nashville, Tennessee is home to nearly 2 million people and more than 53,000 businesses. Nashville experienced exponential growth over the last 10 years creating opportunities to increase economic developments for the city. While Nashville’s recent growth has brought jobs and opportunities, home prices have nearly doubled in the past six years. Combined with scarcer home inventory, rising interest rates and population growth, the boom has left behind many lower-income residents. The city has made several advances this year to address its housing challenges. In January, Mayor John Cooper established the Affordable Housing Taskforce comprised of 21 housing experts in his mission to create better and more equitable and affordable housing for Nashville residents. The taskforce is comprised of members of the Mayor’s team, the Metro Planning Department, the Metro Development and Housing Authority (MDHA) and other city agencies to focus on housing policy, access, financing and land use. Following the convening of the taskforce in January, in March Mayor Cooper announced the city’s unprecedented commitment to affordable housing: $350 million of the funding to add more than 5,000 units to Metro Development and Housing Agency properties—the housing authority not previously funded by the city— to add 1,000 “deeply affordable units” and revitalizing 2,800 “deeply affordable units”; $150 million investment into the Barnes Fund, which will help create another 5,000 affordable housing units; and a request to partner with the private sector to match $250 million in funds.

Following the Mayor’s announcement in March, in June the Affordable Housing Taskforce reported that Nashville must quadruple its current annual affordable housing production by 2030 to meet the projected needs and address the city’s existing housing deficit. In addition, the taskforce reports that the shortage cannot be fixed by any one program or funding source and that local, state, and federal programs will need to work collectively to address the critical housing shortage. The city’s financial investments to Nashville’s housing crisis and the recommendations from the Affordable Housing Taskforce has positioned the city to develop a comprehensive strategic plan that establishes what an equitable housing system could look like for Nashville over the next 10-15 years given its history, city demographics, political positionality, and the need to build consensus with 40 council districts. The plan will address housing policy that aligns affordable housing to other city investments such as transportation, libraries, and schools; increase access to affordable housing; leverage existing partnerships with private sectors and nonprofits; establish new cross-sector partnerships and diversify local, state, and federal funding streams to expand affordable housing options.

To support this work, the city will partner will FUSE Corps to host an executive-level Fellow for one year to work with the Department of Planning to develop a comprehensive strategic housing plan to address the city’s housing crisis. The Executive Fellow will design a framework for an equity-driven affordable housing, create cross-sector partnerships and examine the city’s internal capacity and infrastructure to support and sustain the work. In addition, the Executive Fellow will address housing retention and combat displacement, review zoning and housing stability programs such as emergency housing assistance and eviction prevention. The Executive Fellow will develop a comprehensive implementation plan with specific recommendations to scale the work and identify measurable objectives to create sustainable housing options in Nashville.


The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the Executive Fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Executive Fellow and the host agency.

Starting in November 2021, the FUSE Executive Fellow will work in collaboration with the Department of Planning to draft a housing development and retention strategy with approaches that would strengthen and expand the supply of affordable housing – both by the preservation of existing units and the production of new units. In terms of production, the FUSE Fellow conduct a market analysis and review of land use and acquisition to determine the thresholds and financial feasibility for producing affordable housing. Working in collaboration with Department of Planning, the FUSE Executive Fellow will evaluate the past efforts to preserve affordable housing specifically assessing the viability of the current programs and initiatives to preserve affordable housing.

To further understand the current state, the Fellow will execute a stakeholder engagement plan to listen and learn from stakeholders—internally and externally—to expand partnerships with the private and philanthropic sector in service of reaching housing goals for the city. The Executive Fellow will work quickly to build deep relationships with a wide range of critical stakeholders, including staff across City departments, Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, community members, community-based organizations, the private sector, philanthropic partners, and advocates for affordable housing. Utilizing this initial listening tour with key stakeholders, the market analysis, current policies and programming, the Executive Fellow will analyze gaps in policy and programming and devise solutions to mitigate gaps and will also determine barriers to implementing any strategies. 

During the next phase, the Fellow will draft a comprehensive strategic plan to include recommendations for policy formation and budget implications to expand access to affordable housing. The plan should identify a clear, unified vision for the future of the work, emphasizing solutions that level the playing field and enhance opportunities for traditionally underserved communities. The Executive Fellow will develop initial policy and program recommendations that address the gaps identified and set up a process for continued review of city needs. The Executive Fellow should also determine when and how to leverage all available partnerships, resources, and existing projects for maximum support moving forward. The plan purposes to strengthen and improve affordable housing options that will help policymakers, private sector, organizations make strategic investments in support of ensuring residents have access to affordable housing. The plan will also focus on strategies bring together the city, the business sector, community members and affordable housing advocates to ensure that the city is positioned to meet the increasing demand. The recommendations proposed will yield more opportunities for cross sector coordination, develop the city’s internal infrastructure to support scalable, sustainable, and impactful affordable housing strategies.

The Executive Fellow will then create a thorough and holistic implementation plan to roll out the strategic plan. The plan should also clearly define roles and responsibilities for internal and external stakeholders. The Executive Fellow will then work to initiate recommendations and activities that are most urgent and can be implemented quickly. Overall, the Executive Fellow will enable the Department of Planning to prioritize and advance initiatives that support the development of a more equitable and inclusive housing in Nashville.

By April 2022, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the initial implementation of the strategic plan and decisions on recommended policies and budget as outlined in the plan. This will include the following:

  • Review current affordable housing efforts and engage with stakeholders – Survey the current efforts by the city and its partners to provide affordable housing. Research, case studies and supporting documentation. Identify and engage with all stakeholders at a strategic level, including government officials and agencies, other private developers, affordable housing advocates and potential land trust donors.
  • Conduct a deep landscape and market analysis – Review historical real estate data, market factors; financial/real estate development data; determine financial feasibility; analyze all relevant programming, policies, and processes; map gaps and identify cross-cutting themes.
  • Expand partnerships across the public and private sector and catalyze buy-in– Identify resources provided by philanthropy, private companies, community-based organizations, academic institutions; build new partnerships and strengthen existing lines of communication between stakeholders; identify opportunities to expand affordable housing and work to align perspectives and address any conflicts; identify barriers to implementing any recommendations; solicit and incorporate input from stakeholders to build consensus around the plan.
  • Develop recommendations and form a comprehensive strategic plan – Identify a shared vision with City officials across agencies, community partners, and private partners to produce and preserve affordable housing; design policy and budget solutions and build on existing programmatic initiatives; build out recommendations maximizing impact in each policy area; determine overall objectives and methodology for goal setting, evaluating potential partners and land investments. Establish a financing model, with a detailed budget and budgeting procedures, that includes promoting creative financing through public-private partnerships; establish a timeline for implementation aligned with the city priorities.
  • Develop implementation framework and roll out recommendations – Establish framework outlining short and long-term goals; timelines; priority areas; clear roles of internal and external stakeholders; coordinate and leverage all resources for maximum impact. Determine and document how ownership of affordable units can be achieved by identifying the number of ways investments can be made that are private, public.
  • Support long-term expansion and development – Identify relevant success metrics, setting benchmarks for tracking progress; support capacity building, creating internal infrastructure and systems; work with leadership across Departments and partners to effectively advance recommendations; and integrate accountability mechanisms for long-term deployment and continual evaluation of the policy, programs and/or procedures ensuring community needs and economic equity is centered in all strategies


  • Lucy Kemp, Executive Director, Department of Planning
  • Bob Leeman, Deputy Director, Department of Planning
  • Greg Claxton, Manager, Department of Planning


  • At least 15 years of professional experience in affordable housing, economic development and urban planning
  • Track record of success developing innovative real estate development ideas from conception to implementation
  • Robust experience in coordinating partnerships and building consensus between private and non-profit sector
  • Superior critical thinking, analytical and market research skills with the keen ability to synthesize both qualitative and quantitative information to make a case
  • Strong administrative acumen with understanding of organization development
  • Political astuteness understanding the functionality of city and county and political sensitiveness around navigating each entity
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills, easily able to make a business and policy case
  • Proven ability to make and deliver powerful presentation, with ease in public speaking
  • Experiencing engaging the private sector and philanthropic community for investment and partnership
  • Cross-cultural agility, relating to a wide variety of diverse audiences
  • Strong emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Strong cross-team collaborator
  • Self-motivated and goal-oriented leader who can also be an independent worker
  • Capacity to sustain progress within potentially ambiguous environments
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.



FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.