My Turn: Confusion and concern over housing | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Confusion and concern over housing

Tom Ballou

Over the past few weeks I have read a number of articles about current and proposed affordable workforce housing developments in the Truckee and North Lake Tahoe area. It is clear to me that there is much confusion and concern about the various efforts to properly house our local workforce.Workforce or affordable housing is just that; Housing for people that work. Every household in any workforce housing development, whether it is a larger rental complex or a for-purchase condo and duplex, must have verifiable income to qualify for residency or purchase. Each household must meet a certain income level based on the size of their household. Each household must, therefore, document each member of their household. This documentation of rental eligibility occurs annually for every household. The local workforce housing developments have a much greater level of accountability to the community than any other form of housing.The workforce that inspires so much fear in the more insulated communities in our area are the same people who perform much of the heavy lifting that we all depend on. They cook and serve you your dinner, and wash the dishes after you are gone. They ring up your groceries and keep the shelves stocked. They make sure that your hospital stay is comfortable and sanitary, and that you are well fed while you are there. They educate and provide care for your children while you are at work. They change your tires over in the spring and fall. They rake and mow your lawns. They may in fact be building the very housing units that we are talking about.As we all know, there is a significant gap between available decent housing costs and what most of the workforce can afford. A household earning $100,000 a year these days would be considered to be doing pretty well. At current interest rates, this household could afford about a $285,000 loan. I have not seen a home in our area for less than $300,000 in a long time. Imagine how much more difficult housing is when the household income is $40,000, or less. This is our workforce. To assume that a community of workforce households will automatically breed crime or attract criminals is a very prejudicial position to take. In addition to the level of documentation required to qualify initially, as mentioned above, each adult member of each household is also professionally screened for credit, rental and criminal history. This level of scrutiny is far greater than any market rate homeowner or renter ever went through. On-site management, homeowners associations and CC&Rs set the standard for each community. Local law enforcement help control crime as they do in any other community. Each member of our local community should be proud to embrace the concept and the fact of workforce housing in our area and support those that support you. Step by step, our workforce can have the means to extract themselves from the bias and disability of substandard housing. The local need is so great that the workforce housing complexes in our area all maintain extensive waiting lists of households prepared to submit to this level of personal scrutiny in order to find decent housing. Our efforts to provide suitable housing for our diligent workforce will only enhance our community. Each county has a certain responsibility to provide workforce housing throughout their county. Current rental workforce housing opportunities in Nevada County are available at Truckee Pines Apartments, Sierra Village Apartments, River View Homes, and, now accepting applications for occupancy this summer, Grays Crossing Apartments. None of which are dilapidated, crime ridden, inner-city high rises.Current for-purchase workforce housing opportunities are available at Spring Creek and Stone Ridge, both in Truckee.Placer County is currently considering construction approval of Vista Village Apartments in Tahoe Vista to help satisfy serious workforce housing demand on the North Shore. Tom Ballou is the former manager of Truckee Pines Apartments and Truckee Donner Senior Apartments. He is a certified housing compliance specialist and is the Housing Services Director for WHATT. Hes been a Truckee resident for 20 years.