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Home and rental prices continue to soar in Northern Nevada and Northeastern California, leaving more working families and individuals on the brink. Seniors, college students, single parents, immigrants, and the working poor are particularly vulnerable. Some must choose to pay rent over buying food or securing healthcare. The lack of affordable housing in urban and rural areas alike is changing the identity of this region. In response, the KUNR newsroom is examining housing through many lenses, including the economic, political, and public health impacts.You can also subscribe to the Priced Out Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher.

How One Agency Is Addressing The Housing Crunch

More than a third of Washoe County residents are considered burdened by housing costs. That's according to research conducted by Enterprise Community Partners -- a non-profit that advocates for affordable housing options across the country.

Recently, Enterprise began working with the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency to address the housing crunch in Northern Nevada.

KUNR’s Paul Boger spoke with TMRPA Executive Director Kim Robinson to learn more about some of those strategies.

As a note of disclosure, we should mention that Kim Robinson is a member of KUNR's community leadership board. 

"We produced a housing study in 2016 that identified that approximately 55 percent of our population are currently priced out of being able to afford a home in terms of home-ownership,” says Robinson. “What we see now is that that has gone up significantly. We are seeing that all of the conditions we saw in 2016 are worse."

As part of a multi-phase plan to implement strategies to increase the amount of affordable housing in Northern Nevada, Enterprise has released data examining the crunch. Here's a summation of their findings. 

  • Incomes in Northern Nevada have not kept pace with housing prices. Between the years 2000 and 2016, the median home price in Northern Nevada increased by nearly 14 percent, but during the same timeframe, the median household income fell by the same amount.
  • There is a significant shortage of housing units for low-income households, particularly those earning at or below 50 percent area median income (AMI in Washoe County is roughly $73,500).
  • 35 percent of Washoe County residents are considered cost-burdened – meaning more than 30 percent of their income goes to pay for housing.
  • 60 percent of the housing in Washoe County consists of single-family detached homes, making it the most predominant form of housing in the Truckee Meadows.
  • 64 percent of households in Washoe County are comprised of either one or two people, but only 40 percent of the housing units available in the Truckee Meadows offer less than three bedrooms.

This story is a part of Priced Out: The Housing Crunch Series.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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