By Steve Hunley

Knoxville Unaffordable Housing — The Kincannon Effect

There is a universal rule involving the availability of a product, any product, and that is the law of supply and demand. The demand for housing in Knoxville is ever-increasing and prices have skyrocketed. The more scarce the product and the higher the demand, the higher the price. Another national survey has concluded Knoxville is fifth in the country for the fastest-growing rents. On top of this problem comes the news that the credit of the United States of America has been downgraded. This is very bad news, and it WILL have an effect on middle-class and working Americans. For the tax and spend crowd, it won’t matter until there’s nothing left to spend.

When the credit of the United States is downgraded, it is a downgrading of the country’s national economy. The downgrading will cause the cost of capital to rise, along with kitchen table items, car loans and mortgage payments will steadily rise accordingly. We are spending trillions of dollars we don’t have.

Knoxville is a microcosm of what is happening nationally. Indya Kincannon has no more idea what to do than Adam’s housecat. Keep in mind, Kincannon urged, and the Knoxville City Council agreed, to increase property taxes by 40% in the middle of the worst inflation this nation has seen in 40 years. Yet the daily newspaper and the city government all act like they’re surprised that rents are skyrocketing. When the cost of doing business goes up, so too does the product, and that includes housing — whether in the building stage or completed. A whopping big increase in the property tax is reflected in rents and mortgages, so what intelligent person can really be surprised as a result?

The East Tennessee REALTORS association reports rents in the Knoxville area have risen 9.6% from April through June of 2022 to today. The national rate increase was a more modest 2.3%.

Kincannon points to the $50 million the City of Knoxville has available in tax dollars for “affordable housing construction.” Kincannon brags about the 2,000 new homes built for what she describes as “the lowest income families” in Knoxville. Too often, these issues aren’t put into terms people can easily understand. Basically, Indya is saying that those who pay taxes are building homes for those who probably don’t. When societies or municipal governments continue raising taxes, especially when doing no cost-cutting along the way, to pay for those who produce nothing but bills, it depletes the financial resources of those carrying the load. Don’t mistake it for killing off the goose who laid the golden egg; it’s more like working the mine mule to death.

The burden falls heaviest upon the working poor, working families and the middle class. It isn’t the rich bearing this burden at all. Quite the contrary.

We have to accept the fact not everyone can live in the city of his/her choice. Most Knoxvillians couldn’t afford to live in downtown New York City, even if they were crazy enough to want to. Not everyone can afford to live on Martha’s Vineyard or in Beverly Hills, California. That is precisely how the rise of suburban America came into being. People left the decaying cities, largely because of rising crime and taxes to live in the suburbs.

There has been a lot of conversation about the topic of housing and there have been few logical or workable solutions offered by most of the candidates for Knoxville Mayor or City Council. Those like Kincannon and her pet council people who imposed the 40% increase in property taxes are the LAST people who should talk about “affordable housing.” They are directly responsible for rising rents and mortgages and not a soul is proposing to subsidize the cost of the rents and mortgages for middle-class families.


Brooks’ Housing Proposal

The most reasonable and appealing proposal regarding housing supply has received the least attention. Cameron Brooks, a realtor running for city council, proposes to put funds to use by rehabbing existing homes that have deteriorated and selling them at cost at low-interest rates. Brooks proposes to work with the local school system to get workers, who in turn, would apprentice with tradesmen, electricians, construction, heat and air, and the like. Hopefully, they would get school credit as a practical elective and learn a trade at the same time.

That would have multiple positive effects; it would give working-class families an affordable home; it would restore properties to the tax rolls; it would also strengthen and help beautify neighborhoods. It would benefit students, who would begin to learn a trade, and we have a serious shortage of tradesmen presently. Lastly, it would remove blighted properties and replace them with nice homes.

Brooks believes homeownership is the first step into the middle class and it is impossible to argue that point. The wokesters prefer tearing down single-family homes and building apartments. So does the real estate lobby’s chief lobbyist.

The realtors and developers don’t like it because it doesn’t feed their own special interests. It’s a solid and logical plan and pays its own way and doesn’t break the taxpayers’ back or wallet. Perhaps that’s why there’s been so little conversation about it. In the meantime, expecting the very same people who have exacerbated the problem to fix it, is just plain silly and foolish. Only the daily newspaper should be surprised.


O’Connell, Rolli Finish 1st, 2nd In Nashville Primary

Nashville has just had its primary election to determine who will succeed Mayor John Cooper, who did not seek reelection. A horde of candidates competed in the primary, including two incumbent state senators, Jeff Yarbro and Heidi Campbell. Yet the two top vote-getters were Councilman Freddie O’Connell and Republican Alice Rolli. The top two vote-getters will face off in a September 14 run off election. O’Connell finished first with 27% while Rolli was second with 20%. Matt Wilshire ran third. Heidi Campbell has run for office constantly since getting herself elected to the Tennessee State Senate. Campbell was the Democratic nominee for Congress against Andy Ogles last year.

O’Connell calls himself the most progressive candidate running for mayor, while Alice Rolli told supporters, “Our city is too great to follow the recipe book that has failed other big cities of higher taxes, higher crimes and failing schools.”