Placer officials discuss housing shortage at town hall

The ongoing struggle with housing in the area was again highlighted last week as officials from Placer County hosted a town hall meeting.

“It’s always been a struggle … and these last 15 months with COVID it just got exasperated and it’s not stopping. It’s every day we’re hearing, seeing, and learning about people who have been long-term renters for years and worked in our community for years and are being asked to leave,” said Shawna Purvines, deputy director of the Placer County Community Development Resource Agency.

The county currently has its Workforce Housing Preservation Program, which provides down payment assistance for local workers who make up to 245% of the area median income. The program, which was launched in July, offers up to a 15% down payment or $100,000 for purchasing a home, intending to create a secondary market for local worker housing.

“We’ve always had a first-time home buyer program, but it’s pretty restrictive on income levels and this program is custom designed and funded directly through local funding, the county, and some (transient occupancy tax) funding,” said Purvines.

Other county projects include Hopkins Village, which will have 40 units for sale for local workers earning up to 180% of the area median income. Applications are being accepted now with plans to open in spring 2022. Meadowview Place will have 56 units of affordable housing rentals opening in December, and Dollar Creek Crossing, which the county purchased in 2018, is moving toward launching an environmental review for potential development of the site.

The county also joined the Truckee Tahoe Workforce Housing Agency, which seeks to connect local workers with housing options in the area.

“Our hope is with this joint powers agreement that we will be able to actually fund new construction projects so that we can start building the housing that’s needed for the workforce in the area,” added Purvines.

In terms of rentals, the county board recently adopted a 45-day moratorium, dating back to July 27, on new short-term rental permits in eastern Placer County. Currently, there are roughly 2,400 short-term rental permits issued, but county officials believe there are up to 500 units being rented without permits.

“We do think that there are other short-term rental operations out there that are operating without a permit,” said Assistant Director Crystal Jacobsen. “We’re actively try to bring folks in compliance. However, we do know that at any given time we’ve got anywhere from 200 to 250 folks out there renting without a permit. So, we actively track those. These numbers are constantly in flux. We also know we have about 250 that rented last year that didn’t renew this year.”

The total housing stock for the eastern county, according to officials, is 15,747. Since 2010, 1,315 new units have been built, but there has been a 173-unit decrease in owner occupied units. Owner occupied homes make up 12.1% of the housing stock, while vacant, second homes, and long-term rentals represent 69.9% of area homes. The county said it doesn’t have accurate data on the actual amount of long-term rentals.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643

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