Mid-level incomes increase in county | SierraSun.com

Mid-level incomes increase in county

As Nevada County’s median income levels skyrocket, restricted affordable apartments in Truckee are becoming available to a larger segment of the workforce each year.

When Truckee Pines General Manager Tom Ballou saw the latest county median income figures, he said knew the apartment complex he manages, which has an income threshold tied to the county level, would be open to higher incomes than ever before.

The 2004 median income for a family of four is $63,600, a jump of almost $8,000 from 2002 to 2003.

The numbers, Ballou said, “went through the roof last year and they went through the roof this year again.”

Truckee Pines, which offers its units to those making 60 percent of the median income or less, was housing people in the $15,000 to $20,000 income range eight years ago, Ballou said. Now its income ceilings range from $26,700 for one person to $44,280 for a family of six.

“Where it may seem to close the door on some people, it is opening the door to a lot of other people,” said Ballou, who sees police officers, grocery workers and teachers being attracted to Truckee Pines under the new income qualifications.

“We’ve raised the bar a little bit,” he said. “We’ve opened the door to a different group of people who may have been caught in the middle before.”

Truckee Pines is not the only apartment complex affected by the climbing incomes. Riverview and Sierra Village also have income requirements tethered to the county rates. In exchange for providing fixed, affordable rental rates, the apartment owners are given a tax credit.

A contributor to the rapid rise in county income is the shift of high-income Bay Area and Sacramento residents who choose to move to the foothills of the Sierra and Truckee, Ballou said.

Rachelle Pellisier, executive director of Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe, said that countywide income figures can be deceiving when applied directly to Truckee. With the cost of living so much higher here than in other parts of the county, the higher income thresholds qualify people who may appear to make a lot of money, but struggle to keep up with the costs of calling Truckee home.

“The cost of living up here is so drastically higher that it creates little bit of limbo,” Pellisier said. “When you have a threshold for the entire county it leaves some people out.”

Pellisier noted that the problem has also affected efforts to build affordable housing for prospective home owners. She said many people outside of the area fail to realize that segments of the local workforce that appear to make a substantial salary by county standards need affordably priced housing to be able to live in town.

Ballou hopes that the changing income standards will alter a misconception of Truckee Pines.

“This is not poverty housing. It is affordable housing for people with jobs,” Ballou said. “We’ve always been in that affordable middle range.”

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