Survey says affordable housing needed in Churchill County

Results from a residential survey for available housing has been released and shows most people would be able to afford a $200,000 home and a monthly payment under $1,000.

The survey comes as a result of a presentation offered to Churchill County residents in late January. The Community Foundation of Western Nevada presented the Churchill County Project in three different sessions: senior citizens, Navy families and the general population. The Community Housing Land Trust (CHLT) comes under the umbrella of the Community Foundation and provides affordable and workforce housing to Northern Nevada communities. Churchill County asked the CHLT to do a workforce housing project in Fallon, which will be off Coleman Road east of the Reno Highway.

Chris Askins President and CEO Chris Askins, and Executive Assistant Michelle Duggan provided each group with an overview of the CHLT and how it provides low- and moderate-income resident an opportunity to build equity through owning a home. Askins said the CHLT owns the land, but the homeowner pays a small monthly land lease in addition to the house payment. Askins explained the land lease is for 99 years but resets each time the home sells.

Both Askins and Duggan said low-to-moderate income buyers would be qualified to buy a home. For example, a family of four couldn’t earn more than $55,750 annually according to 2019 figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Duggan said no more than 30 percent of a family’s income will go toward the monthly mortgage.

During a question-and-answer session, Askin said buyers should have good credit with credit scores 640 or higher. He also said the CHLT’s plan is to build smaller homes and not be indirect competition with other builders.

“Land trusts have been doing this for years and working with families,” said developer David Dahl, who also attended the sessions.

Askins said the three session focused on collecting data.

Shannon Ernst, director and public guardian for Churchill County Social Services, said she has made a goal to re-establish a first-time home-buy program with their partners.

“ We will look revising from a first time homebuyer to anyone that is looking to purchase,” she said. “The focus as previously provided will include education on credit awareness and counseling, lenders that work with median income households, down payment assistance programs, homeowner insurance education, housing rehabilitation programs and overall education on the process to search, purchase and close escrow on the house.”

She said the overall process would increase residents with their credit scores if they decided to purchase a home in the land trust.

This is a sampling of the survey: Potential buyers would prefer an attached two-car garage, mortgage payments between $599-$999, housing prices at about $200,000 and down payments between $1,000 to $10,000.

A majority of potential homebuyers would prefer a ceiling fan, entry coat closet, a kitchen breakfast bar and laundry room.

Most respondents also would spend extra money on a house if it had these add-ons: extra bedroom, extra bathroom, kitchen counter eating area, walk-in kitchen pantry if the washer and dryer hookups are in the garage and a large shower with no tub if there is a second bathroom.

The survey also revealed skylights, gas fireplaces and dual master suites were deemed as not important.


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