My Turn: Getting to affordable on all levels | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Getting to affordable on all levels

Rachelle Pellissier

I was having a conversation with a local couple at a party the other night regarding the affordable housing that has recently come on the market for sale in Truckee.

We were speaking specifically about Spring Creek. The wife’s comment to me was, “Those units are not affordable to the local’s ” $305,000 is not affordable.” My response to her was, “Although Spring Creek is not affordable to every family at every income level, they are actually affordable to many families in our community.”

So, what is affordable housing? Well, the definition of affordable housing is housing that costs no more than 30 to 35 percent of a family’s gross income. In the case of rental housing, housing costs include rent and utilities. In the case of purchased housing, housing costs include the mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities and homeowners’ association dues.

Housing that is affordable to one family may not be affordable to another. Even though two households may earn the same gross income, their purchasing capacity, credit, and other important factors may vary.

Each affordable housing development aims at a specific income level. At Spring Creek, only those households whose income does not exceed 120 percent of Nevada County median income will qualify. That means if a family makes more than 120 percent of median income, they cannot purchase the Spring Creek house. It also means that when formulating the price, a calculation was done using the 120-percent median income for a family of four including a stipend for utility, insurance and tax costs to come up with a sales amount.

WHATT has found that our community needs quality affordable housing for families of every size and every income level, from those families that make less than $20,000 per year to those families making over $150,000 per year. In our beautiful resort community, where housing costs have skyrocketed higher than even many of the highest paid executives can afford, housing has become an impossible dream for all, unless you were one of the lucky families who were able to purchase a home before prices shot up.

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So, Spring Creek homes are affordable. But, are the units at Spring Creek, Stoneridge and Gray’s Crossing units affordable to everyone? No, but if we provide affordable housing to 14 families at Spring Creek, three families at Stoneridge, and 92 families at Gray’s Crossing this year, we are getting 109 families earning between $20,000 and $77,000 per year into quality affordable housing. That is a big accomplishment for our community, and I believe that we should give a pat on the back to the developers of the housing, the Town of Truckee and to ourselves for the hard work it has taken to make this housing available.

Unfortunately, housing, especially affordable workforce housing, is not built overnight. It will take the Truckee/North Tahoe community years to create enough affordable housing to make a dent in the deficit we now find ourselves in. But, at least we as a community are working on the problem, and many more affordable units are in the pipeline.

If you are interested in renting or purchasing affordable housing in our region, no matter what your income level, contact us at WHATT and let us get you qualified and on the list for affordable housing. That way, when housing becomes available, we can fill it with families as quickly as possible.