10 episodes

The Promise is a limited-run series about life in public housing, smack in the middle of a city on the rise — stories of a neighborhood in flux, a community defined by its struggles and the growing divide threatening its very existence.

The Promise Nashville Public Radio

    • Society & Culture

The Promise is a limited-run series about life in public housing, smack in the middle of a city on the rise — stories of a neighborhood in flux, a community defined by its struggles and the growing divide threatening its very existence.

    Update: Letting Go

    Update: Letting Go

    Ms. Vernell has another big decision to make: to stay in Cayce through the chaos of redevelopment, or to leave? Her conclusion reveals something about this long, messy process to overhaul Nashville’s public housing. What happens when residents get tired — tired of being told to keep waiting, tired of being asked to keep moving … just tired?

    • 23 min
    Bonus 2: The Big Man Interview

    Bonus 2: The Big Man Interview

    If you've listened to The Promise, you no doubt remember Dexter Turner, aka Big Man. We met him in episode 2. The husband, father and community leader with a quick wit and a large personality had been planning a family barbecue, when a fatal shooting happened right in front of his apartment. In this episode, Meribah Knight speaks with Big Man months later, live on stage at Nashville Public Radio's Podcast Party.

    • 14 min
    Bonus

    Bonus

    We return to the James Cayce Homes to follow up with residents amid the $600 million overhaul. But in checking back, we trip into some news. And we’re reminded, yet again, of how difficult it will be to pull off this massive redevelopment. As the city preps to turn its largest public housing projects into a mixed income development, Cayce residents have to sign a new agreement with steeper fines for late rent, stricter limits on guests and cleaning rules. Plus, higher income tenants won’t have to sign it, which is making residents all the more skeptical, casting doubt on whether the housing authority can really deliver on its promise: To build a community where both the city’s poorest residents and prosperous city-dwellers can live in harmony.

    • 28 min
    Part 6: The Future

    Part 6: The Future

    Does this big idea to have low-income and higher income people living side-by-side really make a community better, safer, healthier? As The Promise comes to a close, we dig into the fundamental question driving this massive overhaul of Nashville’s public housing.  

    The city’s housing agency is betting on mixed income, big time. But its only attempts have been on a much smaller scale than what’s envisioned for the James Cayce Homes. We explore one particular attempt, at a housing complex nearby known as John Henry Hale. And what we find reveals that building pretty homes, and putting people side-by-side doesn’t necessarily produce a flourishing community.

    Music Credits: 
    The Insider, Black Ant, and James Pants, all found through the Free Music Archive

    Production Credits: 
    Writing and reporting: Meribah Knight
    Editing: Blake Farmer, Anita Bugg. With additional help from Tony Gonzalez
    Sound Design: Tony Gonzalez

    • 25 min
    Part 5: Get Some Gone

    Part 5: Get Some Gone

    There is a saying in Nashville’s James Cayce Homes: “Get some gone.” Three simple words that describe the urge, the mission, to move out, to get away from the city’s oldest public housing project. Tonya Shannon grew up in Cayce. And she was determined to get out. So at 18 years old, she got some gone. But leaving the place is rarely a clean break. And with her mother still at Cayce, she lives with complicated thoughts about its future and the people she left behind.

    • 19 min
    Part 4: The Great Divide

    Part 4: The Great Divide

    This is a story about the assumptions we all make. And the secrets we keep. With WPLN reporter Meribah Knight as the go-between, Big Man, a public housing resident from the Cayce Homes, walks across the street to meet the wealthy couple who live in the fancy new home on the hill.  In many ways, their lives couldn’t be more different, but in breaking the silence between the two sides of the gentrifying neighborhood, a friendship begins to form — only to be dashed in a way no one could have expected.

    Production Credits: 
    Writing and reporting: Meribah Knight
    Editing: Blake Farmer, Anita Bugg. With additional help from Tony Gonzalez, Emily Siner, Chas Sisk and Julieta Martinelli
    Sound Design: Tony Gonzalez

    • 33 min

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