2 Jun

Geographical Review Preview: Rent-burdened in the South? A Neighborhood-scale Analysis of Diversity and Immigrants in Nashville, Tennessee

Rental affordability has become a major concern for most Americans since the 2007–2009 recession. Minorities and immigrants, especially in some emerging destination metropolises, have suffered disproportionally from its brunt. Nashville—a prominent southern destination—has not only experienced a considerable gain in diverse immigrant groups, but it has also witnessed skyrocketing housing prices and rents, making them beyond the affordability of even middle-class Americans. Rent burden patterns among racial/ethnic groups, especially the immigrants/foreign-born who are not yet citizens, remain largely unknown. Given Nashville’s suitability as an emerging metropolis reverberating as a nationally representative immigrant gateway, this article explores relationships between rent burden faced by immigrants and other racial/ethnic groups while examining neighborhood-level determinants captured in principal components derived from demographic, socioeconomic, occupation, and built-environment attributes. A newly devised rent burden index—previously applied for metropolises only—is calibrated to census tracts to test its validity in explaining intraurban variabilities. Through multitiered statistical and cartographic approaches, we find that the neighborhoods with higher diversity and a greater presence of foreign-born, noncitizens are the most rent-burdened; so are the tracts with well-off whites and Asians. Newly built neighborhoods associate negatively with the severely burdened category and median gross rent as a percentage of income, thus highlighting the significance of newer-built housing in mitigating rent burden.


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