A look ahead at housing in the Truckee area
Truckee’s cost of living has increased over the course of the pandemic.
Much of the local workforce can’t qualify for affordable housing units established over the past year.
The Below Market Rate Housing Program seeks to change that.
Truckee staff worked with the consulting firm Bay Area Economics and Rise Housing to plan and draft the new Below Market Rate Housing Program, which will be presented to the Town Council in February. The first phase of the program is expected to begin in May.
“We’ve done a lot of work on the housing front, but there is still a lot of work to do,” said Truckee General Manager Jennifer Callaway.
According to Callaway, there have been just over 200 affordable housing units made available in the past year, and Truckee has also helped to house many people through the workforce housing grant program.
Truckee and the Mountain Housing Council are now looking to move forward in the new year with the newly drafted Below Market Rate program, which will also include below market rate for sale housing to locals who wish to own homes. The end goal of this program will be to deed restrict 10% of the available homes in Truckee, an estimated 1,500 homes, by 2032.
This program will be broken up into two phases.
The first phase will focus primarily on improving administration and tracking existing deed restricted housing units, as well as purchasing deed restrictions for properties for sale.
According to Truckee Housing Program Manager Seana Doherty, the program would work by paying a property owner to voluntarily deed restrict a property, legally restricting how the property may be used in the future.
A deed restriction could require that future residents of the property must use the home as their primary residence, must meet certain maximum income requirements, and cannot short-term rent the property.
The priority for the first phase of the proposed housing program will be to create a deed restriction purchase tool to help households purchase homes.
“This could happen in two ways,” Doherty said. “One, a buyer could sell the town a deed restriction on the home they are buying and use the funding towards the down payment. Second, a seller could sell the town a deed restriction, which would restrict who could buy the home based on program qualification requirements.”
The second phase, which may begin later in 2022, will continue with the purchase of deed restrictions that would include multifamily rental housing and create a menu of incentives for developers creating market rate apartments.
The program seeks to help the “missing middle” of the housing crisis.
Doherty said the missing middle generally refers to households that earn over the allowable amount to qualify for affordable housing, but not enough to be able to afford market rate products for either rentals or for-sale homes.
“In Truckee, and in the region, thanks to the work done by Mountain Housing Council, we look at needs across a wider range of household income levels as compared to other communities,” Doherty said. “This perspective, of looking at the housing needs of the houseless up to the higher wage earners has been labeled ‘achievable local housing’.”
The Truckee Town Council has reviewed the program and, so far, has approved it to keep moving forward. Town staff is expected to bring the final program details to council for approval this spring.
Currently there is nearly $2 million budgeted for the first phase of this program.
“What excites the town about this program is the potential, in the long-term, to build the inventory of homes that local employees can buy into,” Doherty said. “In other communities that we looked at when we were researching the BMR Program, it was exciting to see that, after 10 and 20 years, towns had secured 20-40% of their housing stock for their local workforce needs via strong deed restriction programs. We are also excited to see how this tool might be used to inspire developers to create for-sale homes at a price that fits with this program — closer to the $500,000 and below range.”
According to Caroline Craffey, communication manager for the Mountain Housing Council, current housing developments in the works for the Truckee-Tahoe region include Hopkins Village for purchase, Donner Lake 6, Frishman Hollow II, and Meadow View Place, which has recently been made available.
Some Hopkins Village homes are completed now, and the remaining should be completed in 2022. Hopkins Village is still taking applications.
According to Donner Lake 6 landowner Blair Wallace, construction of the property is expected to begin in the spring and may be finished in fall 2023.
Elizabeth White is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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