Housing group expanding goals | SierraSun.com

Housing group expanding goals

David Bunker

The Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe will take a more active role in the development and dispersal of affordable housing in the region over the next few years. The guidelines for the association’s transition from an affordable housing advocate to an affordable housing development partner, coordinator and steward are set out in a new business plan adopted by the organization’s board in late September. The new role will eventually require five staff members and a budget of $400,000 a year. But association members said the expansion will fill large gaps in the affordable housing process.The need for an administrator of scores of units of affordable housing that may be completed as soon as next year is urgent, said Rachelle Pellissier, executive director of the Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe.”With the cottages of Gray’s Crossing, Spring Creek and Stoneridge Townhomes all due to come on line next summer, this screening and marketing of applicants needs to happen next year,” Pellissier said.The Town of Truckee acknowledges the amount of work needed to determine qualified buyers for affordable housing and managing the units, said Town Manager Tony Lashbrook. He agreed that a non-profit may be a better fit for handling the job.”We would welcome a nonprofit with the ability to provide these service,” said Lashbrook. “We are not geared up to do it, and I am not quite sure it is the role of government.”Funding for the association’s expansion is expected to come from developer and program fees, Placer County, the Town of Truckee, membership dues and grants, Pellissier said.Lashbrook noted that Truckee paid Nevada County $1,000 for each affordable housing purchase in the Boulders development, since the county handled the paperwork for the affordable housing program. A similar contribution to a non-profit that handles the administration of affordable housing programs is likely, he said. The association’s three years of successful advocacy for affordable housing helped the board realize a more active workforce housing group was needed.”It made the board more aware of the need for someone to fill these gaps,” said Pellissier. “None of this is easy, but they saw if we don’t do this, who is going to do it?”WHATT board member Ron McIntyre said the effectiveness of the association’s advocacy will help make the group efficient as a development partner and administrator.”I think there is an awareness now of the acuteness of the problem that adequate funding and a knowledgeable board will implement the business plan effectively,” McIntyre said.The association is pursuing two models, a Community Land Trust format and a Community Housing Development Organization, that would allow it to pursue state funding and act as a non-profit land owner and development partner.The final goal of the organization’s new role, said McIntyre, will be to stem the tide of workers and full-time locals that are leaving the area because of the area’s sky-high housing prices.”We’ll never stop the onslaught of the prices of a resort community,” McIntyre said. “What we will be able to do is offer the people that are the heart and soul of the community, and some new folks, a place to come and live here.”