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Housing Shortage is a Community Crisis

The  Community Foundation’s work with youth ages 12-24, including a significant number of youth older than 18, indicated that housing was a key ingredient to stability and upward mobility. Meeting this need of our youngest adult community members is perhaps the most daunting and expensive of the challenges we need to address locally. The Community Foundation of Western Nevada became involved with this issue as we learned about the lack of housing options through the homeless youth initiative, You’N-I. Our involvement has expanded to be part of the larger community conversation taking place about housing needs in general. Earlier this week a Nevada Affordable Housing Development Forum was held and the information shared illustrates the significance of this issue and how it is rapidly becoming dire for members of our low-income population. For example, here are a few illuminating statistics. Average apartment vacancy rates have dropped from 7% to 4% just in the last two years. Rents have increased by 11% during that same period. 70% of apartment properties have waiting lists, and the lists are getting longer. In Washoe County, we have about 18,000 households that are “Extremely Low-Income” category ($20,350 for a family of four). These families are all eligible for federal assistance, yet we only have 3,000 apartments with Federal Assistance available. The shortage is stunning. The Nevada Affordable Housing Forum involved local, state, and federal attendees, as well as nonprofit organizations serving this population, investors, builders, and others. It will only be through our combined efforts, which will likely include policy changes, which we will be able to address this need. Housing the members of our community is the key to addressing many of our other local needs and achieving current and future community goals. If you’ve read this far, thank you for your interest in this issue. Although the Community Foundation is not the leader in this effort, we are informed and involved and welcome your call, 775-333-5499 if you are interested in helping. Chris Askin, President, and CEO Connecting people who care with causes that matter.