Group advocates workforce housing
The Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe (WHATT) has just one goal: to make it possible for the people who work in this area to afford housing here.
Formed in the spring of 2002 after a number of forums held by the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce, WHATT is mainly comprised of local business people who are concerned their employees cannot afford to live in the Truckee and North Lake Tahoe region.
WHATT hopes to educate employers, developers and everyone else in the area about the importance of incorporating affordable housing into future planning and developments within our communities. They coordinate with local governments, regional agencies and the private sector to help expand the amount of workforce housing in the area.
Speaking about the impetus for WHATT, new Executive Director Rachelle Pellisier said “It became very apparent that employers were having a hard time running their businesses because they couldn’t keep and attract employees because there was nowhere in the area for the employees to live.”
In order to show more evidence for the conclusions that members of the association had already drawn, WHATT applied to the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation for a grant that would allow them to hire an intern and conduct a needs assessment study in the local area.
The TTCF agreed that the affordable housing issue was important, and WHATT was awarded $3,300 from the foundation.
So far the intern Aaron Gaines has surveyed all of the jurisdictions in the area and collected studies they’ve done on affordable housing issues.
He was then able to put together an outline that has helped the group determine what is still needed in terms of affordable housing in the area.
Gaines was also able to identify additional sources of funding for WHATT, which just recently received its official nonprofit status.
“We’re very thankful for the grant and we’re hoping to take advantage of the work Aaron’s done,” said former Executive Director Joe Guzman. “It’s given us some resource to advocate for affordable housing in this area.”
So far the organization has functioned on small grants and contributions by founding members, and they hope to be able to attract a number of new members that share their concerns about affordable housing in Truckee and North Lake Tahoe.
“There’s just a lot of development that we have to keep our eye on to make sure some sort of workforce housing is included,” Pellisier said. “We need the help of the whole business community to address this issue.”
For more information about WHATT please see their Web site at http://www.whatt.org.
To make a contribution to the Gifts for Good Fund contact Lisa Dobey at TTCF 587-1776.
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