The Nevada Housing Coalition is calling on the state to invest $ 500 million from the American Rescue Plan Act in affordable housing with a focus on building units for the most vulnerable tenants.
The coalition released recommendations on September 13 and suggested Nevada invest $ 275 million specifically to build more multi-family rentals with dedicated unit funds supporting people earning less than 30% of the region’s median income (MAI). and those in need of intensive services.
“This is our biggest deficit and an area we haven’t invested in because it’s the most expensive to build,” said Christine Hess, executive director of the Nevada Housing Coalition.
Hess added that if Nevada used ARP dollars as the coalition recommended, it would be the first time the state has made a targeted investment to develop units for the most vulnerable tenants.
“It’s really about investing in these hard-to-build units,” she said, explaining that the creation of housing for tenants earning less than 30% of the median income in the region and permanent housing with services support requires “very heavy subsidies and services to accompany them for sustainability.”
The Nevada Housing Coalition estimates that the state has a deficit of 84,000 units for renters with very low incomes, or those earning less than 30% of MAI. In total, the state lacks more than 105,000 affordable units.
Hess said these tenants “are often in the workforce, but also include seniors on fixed incomes or people with disabilities.”
About 82% of those tenants, the group notes, pay more than half of their income in rent, adding that there are only 20 affordable and available units for every 100 tenant households.
With an injection of 275 million dollars, the coalition estimates that the state could build 1,710 units. The recommendation suggests that 750 units go towards incomes below 30% AMI, 700 units towards AMI incomes 60% or less, and 260 units towards permanent supportive housing.
The group emphasizes the need to include funding for housing that also includes support services or housing with ongoing support services, an intervention that can help people who are homeless or without income access additional resources while by being housed.
“In our analysis, we offer 260 units of permanent supportive housing that include not only the construction of the actual structure, but also the operations and services to make them sustainable,” Hess said.
According to the Corporation for Supportive Housing, which helped collect data for the coalition, Nevada needs 7,828 supportive housing units to help people who are chronically homeless, released from jail or jail, or who are undergoing drug addiction treatment.
The funding provided by ARP means Nevada could use unprecedented funds to start closing its housing deficits, Hess said.
Of the total of $ 6.7 billion that Nevada has received from the federal relief program, $ 2.7 billion has been allocated in direct aid that the state can use as it sees fit, and $ 1.04 billion was devoted to localities. ARP funds also include $ 338 million specifically for housing.
“These funds represent an opportunity for our state to truly transform not only the way we invest in affordable housing, but also the way we approach and prioritize affordable housing for all Nevadans and our state going forward,” he said. Hess said.
Nevada Treasurer Zach Conine is leading a statewide listening tour, which began Aug. 3, to gather ideas on how the state could use ARP dollars to resolve systemic issues.
In recent months, the coalition, which consists of nonprofits, social service providers, businesses and banks, has asked its members to provide feedback on how Nevada should resolve its affordable housing crisis.
“One of the most important things for the team was really to ask and listen so that we could better capture and represent the perspectives of those who work in the fields, these experts, those boots in the field and what ‘they see, “Hess said.
While there are often many barriers to creating affordable housing, including political will and logistical barriers ranging from land availability to zoning restrictions, financing is one of the most difficult parts, which is why an important part of the recommendation included money for the creation of new units.
In addition to investments in the construction of multi-family units, the Nevada Housing Coalition recommends that the state allocate:
- $ 125 million to preserve the existing affordable housing stock;
- $ 50 million to invest in land through community land trusts;
- $ 50 million to create more affordable homes for sale and expand down payment assistance, especially for groups hardest hit by the pandemic.
“A novelty that has developed from the conversations, discussions and comments is the fact that the earth has reached the top so much that it has become its own area of funding,” Hess said. “The working group recommends that 10% of our recommendation be allocated to investment in land, because land is such an obstacle to development. It would be new for the state. We don’t have any current programs that invest in that.
The state is at risk of losing 7,500 affordable housing units over the next five years.
Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 12, which gives localities and tenants 12 month notification before affordable housing went down to market rates, but the legislation did not provide funding for preservation efforts.
With an injection of $ 126 million, the analysis predicted that 1,625 units could be rehabilitated or acquired.
Hess said those recommendations are part of the coalition’s first phase. He is developing a follow-up phase to work with experts to “explore potential ways to leverage US bailout dollars most effectively with other sources of funding.”
“While we have estimates of how much housing we can produce, these are only estimates to show that we are performing an analysis,” Hess said. “The next phase, we’re going to see how we think we can maximize these dollars versus other sources of funding.”