Incline Village takes different approach to housing
Nayeli Enriquez will soon have to pay $2,000 per month for her two-bedroom apartment in Incline Village.
The apartment is growing mold, which worries her because her daughter suffers from asthma. The mother of two and Incline Village local of over 30 years has lived in the apartment for eight years, and her rent was previously $800. She now works two jobs to make ends meet.
When Enriquez complained about the mold, she said the landlord used green masking tape to cover it up.
“We hoped that there would be low income housing, but there’s no housing… a lot of people are moving to Reno or Carson,” Enriquez said. “We’re losing a lot of people. If you walk around town everybody’s hiring because there’s a lack of people… rent is increasing a thousand dollars more and people can’t just afford that, especially for families,”
Enriquez said Incline residents have begun to feel the effects of the housing crisis in their daily lives around town.
“A lot of people are stressed at Raley’s because… there aren’t a lot of people (working)… there’s a lot of people saying ‘the wait for our restaurant was horrendous.’ There’s only two servers, and there’s only two cooks. Well, a lot of cooks, servers, and busers have left.”
Indra Winquest, general manager of the Incline Village General Improvement District, has said the district has limited autonomy over the housing crisis on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe — with the remaining question of whether the district has the power to purchase workforce housing.
Winquest said that members of the community have inquired as to why the district has not made many efforts to purchase workforce housing.
“Quite frankly, we have not gone down that path,” Winquest said. “I don’t necessarily believe that that’s within our mission. It’s unfortunate, but for us to do something like that we’d be expending significant public funds, and I don’t know if that’s something that the district should take on. We really try to work with nonprofits and the county.”
“We’re part of the process, part of the discussion, but don’t necessarily have the jurisdictions to do a lot of what others may be able to do.”
The district in early 2019 was offered the old Incline Elementary School for purchase by the Washoe County School District for $2 million — which district Chairman Tim Callicrate said could have potentially been used for local workforce housing. However, the Board of Trustees at the time declined the offer.
Winquest said the Tahoe Prosperity Center has been doing much of the work to help start the conversation of finding solutions to the housing crisis in Incline Village. The TPC works with a network of regional businesses and nonprofits to collect data and catalyze discussions on solutions to issues happening around the lake. Housing is currently a large priority for the organization.
Although the center is starting the conversation about housing on the Nevada side, it is not, in fact, a dedicated housing resource for the Incline Village and Crystal Bay communities, such as organizations like Landing Locals.
“That’s a common misconception that we are a housing service provider,” said Chase Janvrin, program manager of the Tahoe Prosperity Center. “We really try to bring people together to discuss this.”
The center recently released a housing assessment entitled “Washoe Tahoe Local Employee Housing Needs and Opportunities,” conducted by WSW Consulting. It believes that this is the first step in finding a solution.
“…we know that housing is an issue, but we need to be able to quantify it,” Janvrin said. “How much housing is needed, what type of housing, at what price-point, what size, how many bedrooms — that kind of thing. And then what are some of the specific drivers behind the issue and how do we address that?”
“Whatever goals the community would like to see, we’re happy to help as we can… nothing is going to get done without the community’s involvement,” he added. “Whatever the community wants, it has to come from the community.”
According to Janvrin, there are currently no dedicated workforce housing resources in the community. As it stands, tangible and dedicated local housing resources such as Sierra Community House and Landing Locals can only operate in California, as they’re not licensed in Nevada, so their services cannot be offered on that side.
On solutions, Janvrin believes having an agency present to connect locals with housing would be useful, along with other short-term solutions.
“I think most people think about building new and I think it’s important to realize that you can’t build your way out of this problem. There are so many different components that have to be addressed… it takes years to build a new affordable housing complex… I think short term could be things like incentive programs to open up second homes.” Janvrin said.
Elizabeth White is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at email@example.com
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