Monday, March 7, 2011

Bullets in the Washing Machine: A Scene from Nashville's Low-Income Housing Crisis

Posted By on Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 5:58 AM

Got any idea of what it's like to be among Nashville's working poor and trying to live somewhere safe you can afford? The lede of Anne Marshall's cover story in today's City Paper grabs you by the collar:

First came the thunderous boom, then what sounded like a marble bouncing on a steel drum. Tashia Harrington ran downstairs thinking someone might be in her house. It was midnight. Another boom. Then another. Glass crashed. Dishes exploded. When Harrington got to her front room, it was the Fourth of July: Sparks everywhere. Drywall bursting with each boom. The smell of sulfur hanging in the air.

Someone was shooting into Harrington’s apartment. That steel drum sound? A bullet smacking the open lid of a washing machine and tumbling down into the empty drum.

Harrington crawled upstairs, terrified, snatching up her four stunned children. Shattered glass littered 11-year-old Kanacia’s bed, which sat under a window. Harrington pulled the four girls and herself into her bedroom closet and called 911.

Harrington heard from neighbors that gangs eyeing a kid next door likely got the wrong address.

Read the rest of the story, which addresses the shortage of low-income housing for Nashville families, the financial reasons why even nonprofits have to offer higher rates than they'd like, and how a single parent making little more than $17,000 a year in full-time employment hopes to keep a roof over her kids' heads — without fear of bullets ripping through the walls.

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