Graph provided by the Nevada Housing Division, compiled through ALN apartment data, shows rent increases in Carson City over recent years.
A new rent relief measure making its way through U.S. Congress is being closely watched by leaders in Carson City, where rents remain high.
Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., introduced The Rent Relief Act of 2022 to the House of Representatives in July. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., introduced the companion bill in the Senate in August.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the bill, if passed into law, would allow a refundable income tax credit for individuals who pay rent for a principal residence that exceeds 30 percent of their adjusted gross income for the taxable year. The amount of the credit ranges from 25 percent to 100 percent of the excess rent, depending on income, and would not be available to those making more than $100,000 a year. The Senate bill makes that $125,000 for those in “high-costs” areas.
Rent in Carson City has been a hot issue, spurring debate and policies on everything from affordable housing to homelessness. Average rents in northern Nevada have jumped 89 percent in the last seven years, from below $900 to $1680, according to real estate appraisal and consulting firm Johnson Perkins Griffin.
According to RentCafe.com, the average rent for an apartment in Carson City is currently $1,416, and that’s for an average size of 767 square feet. The U.S. Census Bureau lists the median household income in Carson City at $58,305 in 2020, with 10 percent of the population in poverty.
Bill Brewer, executive director of Nevada Rural Housing Authority, has some reservations about the bill in its current form.
“Many of those who are rent overburdened are elderly or disabled. Many of those households do not even file an annual tax return. How will they be informed of the credit and how will it be made available to them on a monthly basis to assist with expenses?” he said in an email.
Brewer said renters in Carson City struggle to find units, including subsidized housing for low-income earners. He wondered if such a credit program could be better implemented through HUD’s existing housing choice voucher program rather than through the Department of Treasury.
“This program [HUD] is targeted to those households at less than 30 percent of area median income so that the household pays no more than 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities,” he said. “This program is administered in Nevada through three housing authorities, including the Nevada Rural Housing Authority which serves all 15 rural Nevada counties. Over two-thirds of NRHA’s voucher recipients are elderly or disabled and there is always a robust waiting list of those who could utilize the voucher if they could receive one.”
With low rental inventory, many in the Carson community have been supportive of a new affordable housing project, Sierra Flats, currently being developed off Butti Way. But that’s only 80 units to start. Broadly written, the Rental Relief Act could affect both low- and middle-income earners struggling with existing inventory.
“I follow these issues closely since this is our workforce that cannot yet afford to own single-family residences,” said Ronni Hannaman, executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce. “If this bill passes, it may put the renters on an equal footing with those who are allowed tax deductions on the interest of their mortgage loans. This deduction may even encourage savings to buy a home, for not everyone can afford a home right out of college or when starting out in the workplace.”