Agencies move ahead to combat Truckee affordable housing problems | SierraSun.com
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Agencies move ahead to combat Truckee affordable housing problems

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

Although the availability of affordable housing in Truckee looks bleak, there are people recognizing the serious need and working on improving the situation.

Increased property values and rent prices and the proposed Intrawest development at Squaw Valley, which could bring more than 450 lower-paying jobs to the area, have highlighted the need for more affordable housing options in the area.

Last year, the Town of Truckee received $1 million in grant money through the Federal Home Grant Program to help improve the options for lower-income families in search of affordable housing.

According to Truckee Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook, about half of the grant money will go toward housing rehabilitation. Loans would be provided at a low interest rate to home owners that meet the household income criteria.

The criteria would be a family income of 80 percent of less of the Nevada County median income. For a family of four, that would be a family income of approximately $36,000 or less. If the home was rented, the owner would have to approve the rehabilitation, said Lashbrook.

The housing rehabilitation grant, which Lashbrook said the town is just now finalizing, will help people afford to fix and improve homes that are in a dilapidated condition.

“It will help people who are in a serious need of a new foundation, heating system or new siding or a new roof,” said Lashbrook.

The other $500,000 in grant money is set aside for a home grant for first-time home buyers. The grant will help give assistance to some household groups who need downpayment assistance in buying their first home.

“For those families that don’t have the required $30,000 or so that it takes to put down, the home grant would provide that money at a low interest loan,” said Lashbrook.

The home grant can also help people who can afford but can’t qualify to get a loan.

“These are for people with steady incomes and just work jobs that don’t pay enough,” he said. Home grant monies will not be available for one to two more months.

Plans for a 40-unit affordable housing complex located on the Truckee River near the rodeo arena, have been in the works for almost five years, said Lashbrook. The Rural California Housing Corporation in Sacramento has been working on the development of Truckee River Village, but has yet to move forward with the plans.

“They keep looking like they’re moving forward, but there hasn’t been any dirt moved,” he said.

Apparently the corporation is faced with a financial gap, and can’t afford the project, he said. The project was originally planned for 40 single-family homes on 10 acres at 10065 River View Drive off Highway 267.

“Other things we’re looking at as a town are granny-units, to help suck up some of the affordable housing needs,” said Lashbrook.

But with the shortage of housing and recently increased strain, there is a need for immediate options.

“What we need is more immediate solutions to people in need of housing,” said Tom Ballou, manager of Truckee only affordable housing complex, Truckee Pines Apartments. “Availability is more important than affordability right now.”

Truckee Pines Apartments are affordable housing units to families or individuals that qualify based on income. According to Ballou, there is a significant waiting list, and if a name was added to the list now, there most likely wouldn’t be an opening until the fall.

“I wish I was in a position to do more for immediate emergencies, but I can’t,” he said.

Truckee Pines was developed in 1996 by Cascade Housing Association, a non-profit Springfield, Ore.-based organization that specializes in affordable housing units. The organization has affordable housing complexes in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California.

Ballou said that CSA is looking into the possibility of another development in the area, but a location has not been determined.

According to local business and real estate attorney and affordable housing advocate Ruth Frishman, CSA is pursuing a development in Placer County to help provide housing for the Intrawest development. Frishman said that Truckee needs more housing options like Truckee Pines, and that Truckee Pines is an example of how to “do it right.”

“It would be a great thing if the town could have another project like Truckee Pines,” said Sandy Casey, broker and owner of Tahoe Resort Properties, who identified the rental market as scarce and high priced.

“We don’t don’t have enough rentals period,” she said. “The town is working very hard on this issue.”


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