Homelessness Crisis Intensifies in Iconic Southern City as Wealthy Californians Buy Up Homes

By: Georgia | Published: May 15, 2024

Nashville is facing a severe rise in homelessness, with soaring property prices largely blamed on wealthy Californians relocating here. 

Local reports indicate that “Homelessness has soared in the city as residents cannot afford homes,” a situation driven by a population spike and surging demand.

The Californian Effect: Shifting Nashville's Housing Landscape

Nashville’s local real estate scene is transforming dramatically due to a surge of newcomers from California. 

Aerial view of a dense suburban neighborhood showing rows of houses with various roof colors and lush backyards

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This influx is driving housing prices sky-high, pushing affordable options out of reach for many long-standing residents. As housing costs continue to climb, an increasing number of Nashville families are left struggling to find homes, exacerbating the city’s homelessness crisis.

Staggering Statistics Speak Volumes

In just one year, chronic homelessness in Nashville has jumped a shocking 77%. 

A makeshift tent city set up in an urban park with numerous tents and personal belongings scattered around a large tree

Source: Wikimedia Commons

To put that in numbers, “There were 1,525 people experiencing chronic homelessness…compared to 863 in the same period a year prior,” according to city stats.

Nashville's Surging Population and Its Housing Crunch

In just over two decades, Nashville’s population has ballooned from 1.3 million to 2.1 million residents, the US Census Bureau reports. This rapid population growth has placed significant strain on the housing market. 

A bustling night scene in downtown Nashville with neon signs, crowded streets, and historic music venues

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As more people vie for the same amount of space, property values and the cost of living have soared, making it tougher for residents to find affordable housing.

Corporate Giants Choose Nashville

The Daily Mail notes that major corporations like Oracle, Amazon, and AllianceBernstein are drawn to Nashville by lower property costs and favorable taxes, leading to increased housing demand.

A panoramic view of Nashville's skyline during twilight with city lights beginning to illuminate the buildings and streets

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This influx of businesses is contributing to the steep rise in home prices, further straining local affordability.

Renters Feel the Heat

Nashville’s rental market is also under stress.

A view of a residential area in Nashville showing modern apartments and traditional homes with the cityscape in the background

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As reported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Nashville area soared $200 in the past year to $1,442 a month.” This significant increase is putting considerable financial pressure on many residents.


Advocacy for the Homeless

Local advocates are urgently calling for massive financial efforts to address Nashville’s deepening homelessness crisis.

A green Quechua tent set up on a city sidewalk alongside a disarray of personal belongings including a wheelchair and various bags, with graffiti-covered walls in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“We need hundreds of millions of dollars in order to, you know, even just make a dent in homelessness here in Nashville,” stated a specialist from Open Table Nashville during an interview with WKRN.


The Californian Exodus to Tennessee

Recent data shows a notable migration trend with “Between 2021 and 2022 alone, more than 22,500 former Californians moved to Tennessee,” according to US Census migration data.

Aerial view capturing a densely packed residential area with numerous homes and streets lined with trees

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This influx is raising demand and local real estate prices, impacting housing availability.


Home Prices Skyrocket

The shifting economic and demographic landscape has dramatically elevated home prices in Nashville.

A two-story suburban home captured in the warm glow of sunset, highlighting its pale blue siding and surrounded by a sparse yard with a few trees

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Recent reports indicate that the average home sale price in Nashville at the end of February was $414,012, this is compared to $290,983 five years before. 


Nashville's Changing Identity

The city’s changing demographics are affecting its cultural identity. 

A vibrant street scene at dusk with illuminated neon signs, busy pedestrian traffic, and the glow of city lights under a dramatic sky

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“It almost doesn’t look like Nashville anymore,” Remacia Smith told The Wall Street Journal, reflecting on the changes that have pushed her and her family to the suburbs.


Community Spirit Evolves

John Michael Morgan, another longtime resident, shared his thoughts with The Wall Street Journal: “Nashville’s always been a big town that felt like a small town. Now we’re a big town that feels like a big town.”

A street-level view of a city block featuring buildings with colorful facades, including a prominent red Boot Barn, under a cloudy sky

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His words capture the growing concerns over Nashville’s rapid growth and evolving character.


A Pledge to Combat Homelessness

The Metro Council isn’t sitting idle. They pledged $50 million from the American Rescue Plan to combat homelessness in 2022.

A solitary figure seated on a city sidewalk at night, wrapped in a red scarf and blue blanket, next to a small cardboard sign asking for help

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However, as activists have pointed out, it’s going to take a lot more to truly tackle this escalating issue. “If a one-time $50 million investment was going to end homelessness in Nashville, you know, homelessness wouldn’t exist anymore, right?” noted an advocate from Open Table Nashville.