Creating affordable housing options in northern Nevada | nnbw.com
Annie Conway | aconway@nnbw.biz

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Creating affordable housing options in northern Nevada

A public-private partnership is providing new affordable housing options in Northern Nevada.

Representatives from the City of Reno, the Reno Housing Authority and Jacobs Entertainment Inc., gathered at a press conference June 20 to celebrate a local family who now has a place to call home after previously living in a homeless shelter.

"I am a big proponent of governments helping to solve housing needs for low-income people," Jeff Jacobs, CEO of Jacobs Entertainment, which own the Gold Dust West in Reno, Carson City and Elko, said in an interview with NNBW.

The company recently purchased the Sands Regency in Reno.

Jacobs Entertainment entered into a partnership with The Reno Housing Authority (RHA) this spring when they agreed to buy $1.5 million in housing and donate it to the RHA along with the purchase of two parcels of land along Fourth Street for an additional $1 million to increase the amount of affordable housing in Reno-Sparks.

As part of that partnership, Jacobs Entertainment acquired and donated a condominium unit on East 9th Street. The unit is now occupied by a family who was previously homeless.

"It is heartwarming," Jacobs said about seeing the resident and her family take occupancy in their new home. "It is really changing lives."

The resident, Maria Perry, is a graduate of Reno Works, a 10-week program put on in partnership through the City of Reno and Volunteers of America. The program provides homeless shelter residents work skills and resources with the end goal of the participants obtaining employment and permanent housing in Northern Nevada.

"Today, the city is excited to welcome a family into a home thanks to the public-private partnership between the Reno Housing Authority and Jacobs Entertainment," Mayor Hillary Schieve said. "We are also celebrating another public-private partnership today, the Reno Works program, which the resident is a graduate of. Both of these partnerships are great examples of city services working together to impact and improve the lives of our citizens creating a thriving community."

Perry and her family had been living in a homeless shelter in Reno since February. The family was able to move into the unit just six weeks after the partnership between the Reno Housing Authority and Jacobs Entertainment.

"We are pleased that we are able to move quickly and complete multiple acquisitions within six weeks of our agreement with the Reno Housing Authority," Jacobs said in a press release. "Reno badly needs decent and affordable housing. The public-private partnership is a step toward meeting that need."

The need for affordable housing is growing.

"As the community has been booming, it has become more and more difficult to find housing to meet the growing needs of the community," Dick Scott, chairman of the Reno Housing Authority, said during the Tuesday press conference.

Rents are also increasing in the region due to a limited supply of multifamily and single-family houses on the market. According to the Johnson Perkins Griffin Q1 2017 Apartment Survey, the average vacancy rate in the Reno-Sparks metro area is 2.23 percent and the average rent is $1,111.

"As the rents are increasing our families are having a very hard time finding affordable units in the community," said Amy Jones, executive director of the Reno Housing Agency. "Being able to put more units in the community where rents are low … it's huge."

The Reno Housing Agency owns and manages 1,250 units in Reno and Sparks and provides 2,500 vouchers for rental assistance. Jones said that while adding one unit may not seem like a lot, but for the Perry it makes a huge difference.

"This is why we are here, to be able to make this happen and to provide safe housing for our families," Jones said.

Jacobs said that he hopes to create 50 to 100 more opportunities like this for other low-income residents in the community and they already have a few units in the pipeline.

"Maria is the first of many," Jacobs said during the press conference. "There will be more to come."