Study: affordable housing needed
July 26, 2017
Nevada Rural Housing Authority is completing its first statewide housing study.
The Carson City-based organization analyzes housing in different markets every few years and this year updated every area it covers, which includes all of Nevada except for the major urban areas of Las Vegas and Reno.
"In Carson City, there's a tremendous need for single and multifamily housing. There's a lot of pressure due to this great economy we're having and there's very limited construction," said William Brewer, deputy director, NRHA. "There's not enough housing and it's too high priced."
The group has bounced around new ideas, at least internally, to remedy it.
"What we're hoping to do as we try to be creative is look at how we can use the resources we have," Brewer said. "If a 200-unit, multifamily development is being built, how can we set aside 30 units for low-income families?"
The model Brewer envisions is a public-private partnership in which NRHA takes some kind of ownership position in the project, a model he said he's never seen used in Nevada.
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"It's an ongoing challenge," he said.
The group plans to post its housing studies online in the fall. Each one contains such data as new housing units, rental rates, housing prices, and estimated demand.
Its housing study on Douglas County will come in handy now NRHA is entering into a memorandum of understanding with the county for the first time.
NRHA met with the Douglas County Commission last week and is assembling a working group of local leaders and staff to identify housing gaps and what the county needs to do, including ordinances to encourage the right kind of development.
Brewer said more than 2,600 households in Douglas County spend at least 30 percent of the family income on housing and more than half of them spend at least 50 percent of their income.
NRHA has also been busy on its annual rush to meet with leaders in communities throughout Nevada to pool their private activity bond cap.
Each year the state is allocated tax exempt debt and half is passed along to the municipalities, which must use it in six months or it reverts back to the state.
"It's not money, it's the opportunity to issue debt," Brewer said.
But because it's divvied up based on population many of the rural areas get allocated so little — Lovelock, for example, received $98,000 this year — it's essentially useless.
So the organization works with the counties to transfer their allotments to NRHA.
NRHA takes the pooled allocations and converts it to mortgage credit certificates for first-time homebuyers and qualified veterans.
The certificates can be used to either increase income in order to buy a higher-priced home or as a tax credit. Both are worth about $2,000 annually to the average homebuyer.
NRHA started the program in 2006, and since then Carson City has transferred about $17 million to NRHA which in turn has generated more than $90 million in loan activity helping 551 families in the city.
This year Carson City's allotment, transferred by the Board of Supervisor's approval in June, was $2.85 million.
NRHA is also honoring five loan officers, who have each issued 100 or more loans under the group's Home at Last Program.
The program provides qualified applicants grant money of up to 5 percent of a mortgage loan to pay for down payments and closing costs.
The loan officer are Celia Barrientos, Jorge Montoya and Debbie Secord, with Guild Mortgage Co.; Michelle Piccinini, New American Funding; and Shaun Bittick, Summit Funding Inc.