A special Nashville committee is recommending an ambitious package of resources for the city’s 37208 ZIP code.
According to a 2018 Brookings Institution study, an area that was found to have the nation’s highest incarceration rate among people born in the 1980s.
A report from the committee suggests short and long term ideas, some of which may take a lot of money. Recommendations include:
- Improving community resource centers
- Expanding affordable housing
- Increasing access to transit
- Reinstating driver’s licenses
- Reforming the bail system
Committee member Jamel Campbell-Gooch says families in the area aren’t getting the resources they need, and many of the issues facing the community are a result of poverty.
“If we can take a community that’s in a food desert and put a grocery store there, you should immediately see a downtick in violence. If you take a community that is housing insecure, put some affordable housing in the area, usually you’re going to see that also drop violence,” says Campbell-Gooch. “So I think that’s where the report really gets to a good spot.”
Another big issue in the report is what it refers to as “racist policing.” But the committee says this won’t be an easy issue to address.
In 2016, the community group Gideon’s Army revealed that Nashville’s black residents were more than twice as likely to be stopped by police than white residents. The group also found that Nashville police were more likely to search black and Hispanic drivers than white drivers.
With a history of policing disparities, committee member Jonathan Williamson told WPLN News that he’s concerned that Metro police won’t be interested in implementing new ideas. He says he remains optimistic about the report, but that conversations alone won’t be enough to change policing practices.
During a city council meeting on Tuesday, councilmember Brandon Taylor, who chairs the 37208 Special Committee, said the main focus is prevention and post-incarceration.
“As a resident of 37208, I take this work our community is doing very personal,” Taylor told the council. “I deeply appreciate the efforts to provide sustainable solutions.”