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Knoxville leaders to explore 'Middle Housing' options

The "Missing Middle Housing" is meant to help provide additional housing that's neither an apartment building nor single-family houses.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knoxville's "Missing Middle Housing" plan aims at building more townhomes and multiplexes in "traditional neighborhoods," which are usually more walkable and have infrastructure and amenities already around them.

"It's this range of housing that fits between the large-scale apartment complex and a single-family home," said Hancen Sale, the government affairs director with East Tennessee Realtors. 

The group has worked with the city for the past two years to come up with solutions and provide more housing. They say just under 25,000 new units need to be added in order to keep up with the housing demand. 

"This Missing Middle plan is confined to a small area. In that way, it's not going to be the solution to the housing crisis. Ideally, we would be able to apply this throughout the city. This crisis is a once-in-a-generation problem and it deserves a once-in-a-generation solution," said Sale. 

He said zoning laws have made it hard for middle housing to be built in the past.

"Though neutral in its wording, some of our zoning restrictions have kept people out of neighborhoods, specifically certain races and income groups," said Sale.

East Tennessee Realtors says that providing middle housing benefits neighborhoods through an increase in property value and support to local businesses. 

"It's a way forward that addresses some of our nation's ugly history and promotes economic and housing development at the same time," said Sale.

The next step is for the proposal to face a vote by the planning commission. That vote is expected in October.

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