Lawmakers concerned about declining federal housing dollars

Members of a legislative committee studying affordable housing in Nevada expressed concern Monday about declining federal funding for both single-family and multi-family housing assistance.

"Affordable housing is a huge issue in Nevada," said chairman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas.

After Tony Ramirez of the Reno Housing and Urban Development office read through a list of federal housing programs, Conklin said he was concerned the money available was less every year.

"Every single category from 2004 to 2005 is in decline," he said.

Ramirez said that was correct and blamed both federal budget cuts and the growing number of communities nationwide seeking money from those programs.

Ramirez said HUD is forced to compete with other national priorities every year and that the agency is under pressure to reduce its overall budget.

"There is only a limited amount of dollars we get from the federal budget process," he said. "We have more entities participating in a pot that isn't growing."

Conklin was joined by committee members Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, and Assemblywoman Francis Allen, R-Las Vegas.

Horsford said he understands there are more entities in Nevada seeking affordable housing money but was concerned the state's share of funding was decreasing.

Allen said she shares the same concerns.

"There is a significant decrease in the federal fund brought to the state," she said.

Ramirez said in Nevada, huge jumps in housing prices have made it nearly impossible for a couple with a "median household income" to qualify for a mortgage.

He said that couple can probably qualify for $180,000 when the cost of houses on the market is now more than $300,000.

"Unless you're walking around with $120,000 in your pocket, you're probably not going to qualify for a home mortgage," he said.

The committee was created to study the availability of affordable housing in Nevada.

- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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