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Housing tough to find for North Shore volunteers

KEITH SHEFFIELD, Sun News Service

INCLINE VILLAGE – It’s been a month since Cory Yip arrived on the North Shore from Orange County, Calif., and she’s still depending on the kindness of others for a place to live.

Yip is one of the AmeriCorps volunteers who came to the North Shore to work at Project MANA in Kings Beach.

She and more than a dozen other AmeriCorps volunteers and Volunteers In Service To America came to the North Shore to spend a year serving nonprofit groups.

However, the harsh reality of expensive housing in Tahoe has made life tough on the young volunteers.

Most of the volunteers just found a place to live – with the exception of Yip – that fits their meager stipend of about $750 a month.

“It’s pretty hard,” Yip said last Monday. “Everything is still in my car.”

Yip is sharing living space on a floor with friends in a Truckee condo. Most of what she owns is packed in her small car, which she has to drive from Truckee to Kings Beach.

“It’s not too bad,” she said. “I’ve cleared out my bedding.”

Lack of affordable housing has been a source of frustration for the new volunteers and VISTAs.

“It’s taken away from my ability to do anything well,” said Ivy Farguheson.

Farguheson is a VISTA with Tahoe Women’s Services in Kings Beach, serving on the agency’s violence prevention team. “I’d have to take off work to go look at places,” she said.

Just this week, she moved into a place with other volunteers like herself.

“It’s just ridiculous and stupid,” she said. “It’s hard to do this volunteer service without any kind of housing.”

For almost two months, Farguheson lived in Incline Village on the kindness of others without having her own place to live.

She became so frustrated looking for a place to live that she didn’t believe what property owners or managers told her until she had a key in her hand.

Raine Dicus, an AmeriCorps volunteer with Children’s Cabinet moved into a condo on Sunday after having lived in Incline for more than a month.

“We’re having a really hard time,” she said. “All we need now is furniture. We’re sleeping on the floor.”

She and her roommates had been looking for a place to live for three weeks before they found the condo unit, she added.

Living on the meager stipend of roughly $10,000 a year, high deposits and rents had many of the volunteers thinking they would have to move back to their home states if they couldn’t find housing.

Farguheson had told herself that she would have to leave Tahoe if she didn’t have her own housing by this week.

There’s been little support for the VISTA workers, Farguheson said. But the AmeriCorps volunteers have had help from the Parasol Foundation through its AmeriCorps coordinator Julie Dougherty.

Parasol is not coordinating the VISTAs this year, whose nearest support network is in Reno.

“It’s been frustrating,” Farguheson said. “I watch the AmeriCorps people and they have someone to go to.”

“If I’ve learned anything, it’s that they need a strong person (VISTA) in charge of coordinating housing,” she added.


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