In July, the Carson City Board of Supervisors shot down a Growth Management Commission recommendation aimed at more affordable housing in the community. Wednesday, Carson City planning commissioners – who double as the GMC – will discuss affordable housing during a public workshop.
The workshop begins at 4 p.m. in the Bonanza Room of the community center and will feature developers of affordable housing projects and market-rate housing.
“The Carson City fiscal year 2022-2026 Strategic Plan states that in fiscal year 2024, the Community Development Department will ‘evaluate ways to partner with affordable housing developers to increase affordable housing units,’” reads a staff report. “This meeting is an opportunity for housing developers to explain the factors they consider when approaching a project to inform both city staff and the planning commission.”
The workshop will be for discussion only but will explore ideas and potential code updates related to the issue.
“It is my understanding that the city of Carson would like to have a detailed conversation about the development of affordable housing in the region and best practices on how to do so,” said Matthew Fleming, executive director of Northern Nevada Community Housing and one of the speakers scheduled for the workshop.
NNCH, a nonprofit, developed the Valley Springs affordable housing project off Hot Springs Road. Having opened in 2020, the apartments house 62 veterans and their families, Fleming said. NNCH is currently developing a 126-unit affordable housing project called Eagles Landing — also with a veteran preference — at the intersection of North Roop and Northridge Drive. Fleming hopes doors for this new project open in 2025.
Spearheaded by a different development team, Sierra Flats off Butti Way is another affordable housing project underway. The two-phase, 160-unit complex is being built on land the city conveyed to developers at no cost. However, the city stipulated the land be used for affordable housing for at least 51 years.
“The situation in Carson City is a positive one,” Fleming said. “The need is great, and the city is very supportive of the concept, which creates a productive atmosphere to maximize the community’s resources to help those most in need.”
In May, planning commissioners convened as the GMC and recommended the Board of Supervisors use a 3 percent growth rate for residential building permit allocations, with 2 percent for market-rate housing starts and 1 percent for affordable housing starts targeting workforce needs. The city’s growth management program, which began in 1978, caps the number of residential building permits to a 3 percent growth rate. In July, the Board of Supervisors kept the 3 percent rate for allocations but rejected the affordable housing provision, concerned the proposal couldn’t be supported by current code and lacked detail to implement.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, affordable housing is defined as “housing on which the occupant is paying no more than 30 percent of gross income for housing costs, including utilities.” For federal housing programs, HUD sets income limits depending on median family income and fair market rents for a given area.
HUD’s most recent estimates (based on 2015-19 American Community Survey figures) show 10,045 households in Carson City above HUD’s area median family income (HAMFI). Approximately 2,660 households were lower than 30 percent of HAMFI, and 4,375 households were between 50 and 80 percent. These figures include both renters and owners. This federal fiscal year, median family income for Carson City was estimated at $85,500, according to HUD.
HUD also publishes fair market rents every year. The data is used for government housing programs but also provides a snapshot of local markets. The fair market rent is the 40th percentile of gross rents for “typical, non-substandard” units in a local housing market. For fiscal year 2023, the fair market rent for a one-bedroom unit in Carson was $980 monthly. The fair market rent for a two-bedroom unit was $1,273, and the fair market rent for a three-bedroom unit was $1,809. The rents jumped in every category from the previous fiscal year.
At the same time rents have gone up, the price tags for single-family homes have remained relatively high. The most recent data from Sierra Nevada Realtors put the median sales price in Carson City for the month of July at $510,000. In 2012, the median sales price for a single-family home was $145,000, according to Carson City Community Development.
During the GMC meeting in May, Carson City School Superintendent Andrew Feuling expressed concern about high housing costs in the community, among other challenges.
“I just think for a young working-class family trying to move into Carson, that is hard,” he said.