John Haynes, a pastor at Burns Tabernacle Primitive Church for 22 years, is running for the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen as a candidate at large with one primary goal: to make housing more affordable for every day Franklin residents.
Born and raised in Franklin, Haynes graduated from Franklin High School in 1973, and soon after earned an associates degree from Tennessee State University. After starting a job at Vanderbilt as a technician in the hospital's dialysis unit, Haynes returned to school to become an EMT, and worked in Vanderbilt's ER unit for 15 years.
Today, Haynes preaches regularly at his home church in Franklin, and is also a wellness health coach at an assisted living facility.
"I've seen so many families that have had to move out of Franklin"
As the cost of houses in the United States continues to rise at unprecedented rates, many Americans have lost hope of ever becoming homeowners.
In 1976, the median home price in the U.S. was $36,304, which amounts to $166,947 in today's money when adjusted for inflation. That same year, the median household income was $14,960, which equates to $71,925 in today's money.
According to Federal Reserve Economic Data, today's median home price is $374,900, whereas the median household income as of January 2021 was $66,039.
To put the rising home costs into perspective, the average family in 1976 would make enough money to cover the cost of the average home in roughly 2.3 years. Today, it would take more than 5.6 years.
Home costs in the city of Franklin, unfortunately for low-wage earners, are well above the national average, with the Zillow Home Value Index finding the typical home in Franklin selling for $664,326 in 2021, a 28 percent increase over 2020.
City leaders have discussed the idea of pursuing affordable housing products in recent years, with one such example being "The Hill" property on 5th Avenue. However, progress has yet to be made on that front.
After watching people he's known for decades slowly be priced out of their home community, Haynes — who's never run for office before — said he was inspired to run for city alderman in order to make a difference.
"I've seen so many people, so many families that have had to move out of Franklin because they couldn't afford to live here that were born and raised here; I've seen people get swindled out of their homes," Haynes said.
"So this time I felt his calling, that somebody had to be passionate enough about it, to have the type of on-hand experienced that I've had."
That "on-hand" experience Haynes mentioned relates to his work at his church, where as a pastor, he routinely helps local residents struggling with homelessness by providing food and working with the Franklin Housing Authority.
"You have people moving in from from other parts of the country and they give big money for houses, and this really is killing our people - and when I say people I don't just mean Black people; white people, Hispanic people that can't really afford to live here," Haynes said.
"So low income housing and better paying jobs. It's a sin and a shame, the average person around here probably makes $10-11 an hour. How in the world? That's sad for a place like this, for a place like Franklin."
"I think Franklin has the opportunity to turn itself around because of his uniqueness and the culture, but right now, as things might look good on the outside, but on the inside people struggle."
John Haynes will be running against Alan Simms, Gabrielle Hanson and Bhavani Muvvala for the alderman at-large position.
The upcoming Franklin election will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 26. Franklin residents will need to be registered to vote by Sept. 27 to participate in the election. To check if you registered already click here, or to register to vote online, click here.