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Metropolitan Social Services Uses ACS Data to Understand and Support Older Residents in Need

Jiali Zheng, Metropolitan Social Services, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

Data Story

Metropolitan Social Services (MSS) provides a range of services to help Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee residents who are in need. 

Our Strategic Planning and Research Division team extensively utilizes the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) in researching the economic mobility and social well-being of Nashvillians.

For example, the MSS research team produces an annual “Community Needs Evaluation” and “Know Your Community Report,” which rely heavily on ACS data. The "Community Needs Evaluation" uses the ACS 1-year estimates to identify current social service needs in the community. The information presented in the report also aids in anticipating future service requirements for Nashvillians and guides policymakers, advocates, professional practitioners, and philanthropists in their efforts to alleviate poverty.

The “Know Your Community Report,” on the other hand, utilizes the ACS 5-year estimates to provide population information at the Council District level, offering insights into the socioeconomic well-being of individuals across different council districts. Additionally, MSS leverages the ACS Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) data to generate customized data for research purposes or to fulfill data requests from other organizations.


MSS' utilization of ACS data to comprehend the well-being and needs of residents in Davidson County has inspired the entire community to prioritize the use of research and data in decision-making. Many organizations have requested ACS data from MSS for different purposes.

The Metro Nashville Planning Department used the ACS 1-year housing and demographic data to help secure $30 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds through the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program for affordable housing initiatives, which aim to provide pathways to equitable homeownership and housing opportunities for older adults. They also used the data to develop proposals related to home sharing for older adults.  

The Office of the Metro Trustee requested information on the number of senior and disabled homeowners in Davidson County with annual household incomes low enough to qualify for the property tax relief and tax freeze programs in 2021. With the tax freeze program, qualifying homeowners aged 65 and older can “freeze” the tax due on their property, even if tax rates increase. MSS calculated this figure using the 2021 ACS PUMS data, which suggested that a considerable number of eligible homeowners did not apply for the programs. Using these findings, the Office of the Metro Trustee informed residents about the programs, by going to neighborhoods with information and sign-up sessions, posting the information on social media and news channels, and asking senior care providers to spread the word. As a result, more applications were received, and 103 more homeowners received the tax relief and 78 more received the tax freeze in Tax Year 2022 than in Tax Year 2021. Given the large number of homeowners found through ACS PUMS data in Davidson County with low income and the rising property tax, Metro Council recently passed an amendment to broaden eligibility criteria for the 2024 tax year enabling more seniors to qualify for the tax freeze program.

By using ACS data, MSS and other local organizations can drive impactful change in Nashville and Davidson County, such as discovering critical social service needs, providing services and relief to residents facing housing hardships, and empowering decision-makers and the community to address challenges.


Davidson County, TN; Nashville, TN; All council districts in Davidson County, TN; Metropolitan areas; Tennessee

ACS Topics Used

Race, age, poverty status, disability status, mortgage cost, rent cost, SNAP, household income

Page Last Revised - May 14, 2024
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