In Nashville in the late eighties, there was no long-term, affordable place for a homeless person to call home. Something had to change, and an agency called the Council of Community Services took the lead. The Council of Community Services (CCS) acted much like the United Way—looking for gaps in critical services and then working to fill them. The executive director of CCS at the time was Rusty Lawrence, a former Peace Corps volunteer and Vanderbilt graduate, who found a place on Murfreesboro Road called the Mercury Motel. In its heyday, it had been a family motel with the occasional celebrity guest, but over time it had become a dilapidated eyesore and a home to drug dealers and a base for human trafficking. With the help of nine local banks, a major grant from HUD, and volunteer efforts by local churches and businesses, Rusty and the CCS team renovated Mercury Motel in 1992 to create the first Single Room Occupancy housing opportunity in Nashville: Mercury Courts.
Other innovative projects soon followed, including Nashville’s first housing for people living with HIV/AIDS, and Rusty and the staff of the CCS quickly learned the ins and outs of developing and managing affordable apartments for people with special housing needs. The Council of Community Services eventually spun off a division called CCS Housing, and that organization later became Urban Housing Solutions, but the same innovative spirit has motivated us since the beginning.
Today, Urban Housing Solutions manages over 30 properties, and we’re able to offer a wide array of affordable housing for all different income levels and needs along with some affordable commercial space for neighborhood startups. We can also connect our residents with special housing programs, health advocacy, and support services for people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, those living with HIV/AIDS, people with a mental illness, deaf and hard of hearing adults, and people experiencing homelessness.
We are always seeking new ways to address unmet housing needs, and to play a vital role in the strength and success of Nashville’s neighborhoods. Our motto is innovation plus opportunity, and we invite you to be a part of the equation with us.