Housing remains Carson City’s top challenge
August 26, 2018
In case you haven't noticed, there's a major housing boom going on all around us. Just about every square inch of private vacant land has been sold to developers to build housing for all those clambering to enjoy what we residents already appreciate about our city.
Tons of dirt is being moved to prepare footing for the various houses and apartment units that will spring up within the next year or so. The remaining vestiges of the historic ranches will no longer contain grazing cattle, instead converting to hundreds of rooftops.
In today's housing market, the cost of housing is rising as much as $10,000 per month, according to statistics found on Zillow, the real estate site. Even the once more affordable Dayton is no longer affordable, and to find a house in the "affordable" category, one would have to live in Yerington.
In this market, some might be tempted to sell their castle, but then where would you go?
Not only has the cost to purchase a house gone up considerably, so has apartment rentals and the trend is rents will continue to rise to the level of extreme unaffordability for the worker making less than $15 per hour so many businesses rely upon.
Just what is affordable? That's the million dollar question these days. According to the National Apartment Association citing data from the Urban Institute, "building affordable housing is not particularly affordable; in fact, there exists a vast gap between what these buildings cost to construct and maintain and the rents most people can pay. Absent the help of too-scarce government subsidies for creating, preserving and operating affordable apartments, building these homes is often impossible."
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Just moving tons of earth behind the Galaxy Fandango theater is not only a major feat, but an expensive venture before the concrete footing is even poured. Other building sites around the city, such as the Lompa Ranch project, are moving considerable amounts of dirt to mitigate the flood plain. Someone must pay for all this site preparation and that someone is the builder/contractor who then must pass on the cost to the renters to be able to recoup the initial investment.
Currently, Carson City has the largest share of what could be termed affordable or workforce housing within the region. Once known as Section 8 homes/apartments, many parts of this city have apartments and homes that would qualify as affordable, but that doesn't help the new incoming residents who may have chosen to live and work here.
According to the website, affordablehousingonline.com, Carson City has 969 low income apartments and 276 rent assisted apartments. The term "rent overburdened" applies to those who are making less than $2,733 per month and pay over 30 percent of their income in monthly rent. As rents continue to climb, more and more will be "rent overburdened." Research indicates over 44 percent of renters in our city currently are overburdened.
To put things in perspective, Dayton has 70 low income apartments with 0 rental assisted apartments.
Douglas County has 334 low income apartments with 144 listed as rent assisted. If you know of someone needing help in finding apartments, have them call 1-877-428-8844 or go to the website listed above.
While concentrating on the plight of the low income worker to afford housing, overlooked is the concern of about a year ago when local officials were lamenting the loss of younger workers to Reno. Though they worked here in various well-paying jobs, these younger workers left the city — taking their local earning with them — because of a shortage in upscale apartments preferred by Millennials — and, as it turns out – the Baby Boomer wanting to downsize. The apartments built at 308 N. Curry was to relieve some of the shortage and was highly touted.
The last upscale apartment complex was built in North Carson City almost 18 years ago and many of those found along Fifth Street and Hot Springs are not the type of units preferred by those who seek not only a great apartment, but the external amenities that go along with it. Forgotten is that workers making good salaries are seeking "workforce" housing as well and if we don't have it, they will seek it elsewhere. Keeping the young workforce here to live, work, and play has been a priority that may soon come to pass with the apartments now being built behind the Galaxy Fandango giving our city a more vibrant culture that will help the economy and fill those many new restaurants.