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The Reno-Tahoe area is facing a severe shortage of affordable housing, impacting everyone from families to employers to even the police force. Over the next several months, KUNR will explore the housing crunch from the perspective of tenants, landlords, homeowners, businesses, realtors and economic experts, looking at the challenges and possible solutions.

Squeezed Out: How The Second-Home Economy Impacts Housing In Tahoe


Our series “Squeezed Out,” on housing shortages facing Reno and Tahoe, continues with reporter Amy Westervelt’s story on how tourism affects Tahoe residents.

On my street in Truckee, there are about 20 houses. But only three of us live here. That's not uncommon throughout the Tahoe region, where more than sixty-five percent of the housing stock is second homes. In many discussions of economic development and housing in the region, it's the elephant in the room.

"Only 35% of the approximately 33,000 homes in this area are available for us and our local workforce,"  says Alison Schwedner of the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee.

"It's tough because you want to be engaged in your community where you live. Tahoe is their vacation spot. When you come on vacation, you don't want to think about the people who are struggling to make ends meet here," says Heidi Hill-Drum of the Tahoe Prosperity Center.

"Sixty-five percent of the homes in our area are unoccupied vacation rentals, sitting there waiting for people to rent them. That means our workforce can't live there," says Kristi Thompson of MWA Architecture in Truckee.

Various ideas have been proposed to balance the need for both long-term and vacation homes in the area, but so far none have stuck. As the Truckee-Tahoe Community Foundation finalizes its workforce housing study, it's a question everyone wants answered.

Amy Westervelt is a former contributor at KUNR Public Radio.
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