Report says pandemic could lead to affordable housing crisis in Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — COVID-19 isn’t just a health crisis — it’s creating problems in the housing world too.

The city of Memphis addressed this in a report released Monday from the city of Memphis, Innovate Memphis and other partners: “2020: State of Memphis Housing Rising to Respond to Crisis.”

“Experts predict that the pandemic could cause a housing crisis similar in some ways to what Memphis experienced during the Great Recession,” the report states.

Paul Young, director of Housing and Community Development, said there’s a significant need in the community.

“We are losing supply from the bottom of the market, meaning that, where we have units that are available and affordable to families that earn 30% or less of the area median income, that number of units is reducing,” Young said.

The report compares what’s happening now during COVID-19 to 2008.

“The neighborhoods most impacted by the subprime mortgage crisis back in 2008 are also the same neighborhoods that are facing some of the highest rates of vulnerability for the socio-economic repercussions of COVID-19,” Young said. “Things like housing stability, evictions, the loss of affordable housing units.”

Some of the places affected are neighborhoods in Whitehaven, Hickory Hill, Frayser, Raleigh, Parkway Village and southeast Memphis.

Austin Harrison with Innovate Memphis, who worked on the study, called it a starting point.

“The purpose is to provide context so that bankers can talk to community development corporations, that can talk to neighborhood associations, that can talk to private developers and we can start breaking down some of these silos that exist in housing world,” Harrison said.

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