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Village on Sage gathering areas encourage neighborliness

The Village on Sage Street is a safe, diverse, and connected neighborhood offering 216 dorm-style rooms located in downtown Reno.

Demand for housing is a crisis. Rents have risen more than 50%, pushing low-income and elderly residents out. The Village on Sage Street provides affordable, safe, and clean housing to people who are working but struggling to afford rent.

The Village on Sage Street could not have happened without the support of our community. Key contributors, volunteers, and builders who made this innovative project possible. The major donors include the City of Reno, Satre Family Fund, Monroe Schuler Fund, Summit Engineering, Gorelick Real Estate Advisors, Q&D Construction, Thomas P. Raley Foundation, Volunteers of America, Western Nevada Supply, Ernest Adamo, and Helix Electric. The volunteers and visionary leaders who brought it all together include Par Tolles, Allison Gorelick, Dan Carne, Leo McFarland, Pat Cashell, EDAWN, Abbi Agency, Nancy Fennell, Kathie Bartlett, and Shannon Vanostrand. We are grateful to the builders and especially Q & D Construction, Summit Engineering, Pezonella & Associates, Helix Electric, Group West Construction, RenoGreen Landscape, ABC Fire, Tholl Fence, and Wiley Plumbing. Due to the scale of this project, more donations are needed to complete the funding of the Village.

The Village on Sage Street

The Village on Sage Street was only an idea in early 2018. The Community Foundation had an opportunity to acquire modular units from a former man camp in Wyoming at a fraction of the units’ original price. After a trip to Wyoming to inspect the units, the City of Reno, Q & D, the State of Nevada Manufactured Housing Division, and Volunteers of America agreed the Community Foundation should move forward. The City of Reno donated four acres of land on Sage Street to the Community Housing Land Trust to be used exclusively for affordable housing. We broke ground during the summer of 2018. Numerous contractors and subcontractors worked together and completed the Village in about half the time a similar project of the same scale would typically take, despite the harshest and wettest winter we have experienced in years.

 “The prefabricated, FEMA-esque dorms are fitting for a housing ‘crisis,’ and are concrete examples of the solutions possible when the human cost is recognized before the financial one.”

– Reno News & Review, January 16, 2020

Amenities and Site Overview

  • Rent for a private dorm room is $400 a month (utilities included)
  • The Village on Sage Street is a self-paid housing community and is not subsidized housing
  • The Village is intended for people who are working but struggling to afford rent in the area
  • Volunteers of America operates the Village
  • Dorm-style living
  • People must be 18+ and pass a background check
  • Must earn a gross monthly income between $1,320 and $2,735
  • Dorm structures hold 42 private rooms with a locking door, operable window, desk, bed, closet, and flat-screen tv. There are shared bathrooms in each wing.
  • The entire site is ADA accessible
  • Safe and secure site – 62 security cameras and gated access
  • The entire site is attractively fenced and landscaped and includes a communal dining room
  • “Grab and Go” store for people to buy food and household essentials on-site
  • TV Lounge, Wi-Fi, Fitness Center, Laundry Room, and indoor Mail Room
  • Outdoor fireplace, service animal relief area, and bike racks
  • On-site parking
  • Seniors age 50+ may qualify for an income waiver

Rakesh moved into the Village on Sage Street in September 2019. After suffering a heart attack, Rakesh was faced with medical debt and needed to find a job that was less physically training. The Village provides Rakesh a safe and affordable home. Rakesh warmly greets his neighbors and speaks fondly of the Islands of Fiji, his home. His neighbors fondly nicknamed him Fiji.

Evaluation: We measure our impact based on the outcomes, including the progress on personal and professional goals lodgers achieve while living at the Village on Sage Street.

  • 216 safe, clean, and affordable housing units created, which will benefit thousands of community members over time
  • Financial education classes were led by Bank of America, Nevada Legal Services, and CMG

 

Recipient of EDAWN’s 2019 President’s Award and the American Planning Association’s Outstanding Community Project

 

 

 

Occupancy

  • 14 people moved-out of the Village in 2019
  • One person lived at the Village for two months until they got a full-time job at Tesla and bought a car. Their monthly income increased by about $1,300 at the time of departure
  • Another person left after their semester of nursing school ended. During their stay, they utilized financial classes and frequently studied in the dining hall
  • One person moved-out of state after living at the Village for four months. During their stay, they increased their gross monthly income by $380
  • One lived at the Village for two months and moved into a house with a roommate
  • One person moved-in to permanent housing on their own

Demographic Profile

  • 160 people moved-in to the Village in 2019
    • 108 lodgers (67.5%) earn income through employment
  • Average age of lodgers is 48.7
  • 9% of lodgers are veterans
  • Average income is $1,798
  • 23% female, 77% male
  • Average credit score is 470
  • 2% of lodgers own vehicles

Looking Ahead – Community Impact

With the construction of the Village complete, the community impact will be determined by what people achieve while living at the Village and how their situation compares when they move-out versus when they moved-in.  Evaluation of the Village moves beyond simply stating that the development was finished.

Extensive data on people living at the Village is being collected to evaluate our impact. When people apply to live at the Village, they are issued a credit report (note: applicants’ credit scores do not influence selection decisions) and are asked what their personal and professional goals are and whether they own a vehicle. Many people who moved-in to the Village stated they wanted to get better at managing money, which prompted financial literacy classes to be offered in the Village’s classroom. Although Volunteers of America, the operator of the Village, will not provide services or classes, they contact service providers to offer training opportunities based on lodgers’ needs. Narcotics’ Anonymous and Alcoholics’ Anonymous support groups are expected to be offered in 2020.

Exit surveys are issued when people move out of the Village. At departure, people are asked if they attended any of the training opportunities offered on-site or utilized any external services. Additionally, people departing can voluntarily disclose if their income or credit score increased, if they were able to purchase a vehicle or make progress on their personal and professional goals they listed in their application, and what kind of housing they will be living at next. A prime example of success was the person listed above who increased their income, bought a car, and got a fulltime job at Tesla.

Our 2019 data is limited since the longes someone could have lived at the Village was less than six months. For example, we may find out that most lodgers live at the Village for 18 months, but not enough time has passed to assess such trends.  Moreover, only 14 people out of the 109 lodgers moved-out in 2019. Over time, we will have more substantial data on the average length of stay at the Village, the average increase in credit score and income, and the primary forms of housing to which people move.

Stay tuned for more data on the Village on Sage Street in the 2020 Impact Report.