Nashville’s housing authority has decided to rechristen its largest public housing complex. The James Cayce Homes will eventually become Boscobel Heights.
It’s all part of a massive overhaul called
Envision Cayce, which aims to turn the complex into mixed income housing. Officials say they chose the name because they wanted to “take it back to its roots.” And they did. Boscobel Heights was actually Cayce’s original name, when it was being built in 1939. That was changed after the housing authority’s chairman of the board, James Cayce, died in 1941, just before it was completed.
But it’s not only the name that hearkens back to the complex’s early days.
Cayce opened in 1941, under Roosevelt’s New Deal. However, by 1942, Nashville had such an affordable housing shortage due to World War II that residents were allowed to stay in Cayce indefinitely, even if they made too much to qualify for public housing. Annual reports from that time show the housing authority adding on new monthly rents for residents in higher income brackets. In 1944, the average annual income for a family living in Cayce was $1,482. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $20,849. Today, the housing authority reports the annual income for a family living in Cayce is $7,968.
In other words, in its early years James Cayce thrived as development filled with residents of varying income levels. And the city’s hope is that it will once again.