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Renter advocates speak before City Council

Posted on Monday, September 18, 2023 at 10:13 am

Some Shelbyville City officials attending a public hearing event held by BCLP on Aug. 26. The event highlighted BCLP’s goals with helping renters.


Problems with rental situations in Shelbyville were presented to the City Council during the September study session.

After a presentation by Tristan Call of the Bedford County Listening Project and others about these issues, it is expected to be on the agenda for Thursday’s regular council meeting at the Building Codes and Planning Building, the former location of the Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce. The meeting begins at 6 p.m.

In “Defending Our Homes: Addressing The Housing Human Rights Crisis In Rural Middle Tennessee” there are five major concerns based on 170 interviews of local renters:

*Rent is skyrocketing

*Landlords are failing to do urgent repairs

*Landlords make their own rules

*Seventy-eight percent of renters say they are treated unfairly in housing court

*Renters report widespread discrimination and racism

In addition to the city’s Safe and Affordable Housing Committee, the Listening Project wants the city to add an “Office of the Tenant Advocate” to help renters exercise their rights and access resources.

Call also wants the city to encourage the Federal Housing Finance Agency to request protection for tenants living in federally-subsidized housing.

“The Federal Housing Finance Agency wants to hear from us,” council member Stephanie Isaacs said. “I fully support the FHFA adding rent regulations to the agreement when landlords receive Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac financing to buy their properties.”

Isaacs emphasized all apartment should meet code specifications.

“I’ve seen plenty of apartments here that are financed that way that desperately need improvement,” Isaacs said. “I am delighted our Renter Committee made this recommendation to the Council.

“I know renters are struggling. It’s bad enough that rents are rising. These apartments that get federal money (our money) shouldn’t take advantage of people and their families. I hope the FHFA sees our support for renters and something is done on the federal level. We have to keep improving things in our community for renters as Shelbyville continues to grow.

A final agenda was not available at press time but some additional items expected to be discussed and possibly voted on are:

*Connect Bedford, which is active in providing broadband for the county

*Consideration of a Deputy City Manager for development services

*Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership funding

*A grant request for a taxiway for hangar development

*A review of animal ordinances

*A retail development program

*Property maintenance codes

*An annexation request for 36.83 acres on Wartrace Pike

*A resolution of the City of Shelbyville authorizing a grant contract between the State of Tennessee, Department of Transportation, Aeronautics Division, for $15,000