Nevada builder inducted into National Housing Hall of Fame | nnbw.com
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Nevada builder inducted into National Housing Hall of Fame

At the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) annual mid-year conference and Board Meeting in Washington, D.C. in June, Reno multifamily builder and developer Robert Nielsen was inducted into the National Housing Hall of Fame.

It is truly an honor," Nielsen said in a telephone interview with NNBW last week. "It signifies being at the top of where you are in your profession."

Even more importantly for him though it also a tribute the tireless work of his associates to bring affordable housing to northern Nevada.

Nielsen had served a high school teacher in Reno and Sparks before a friend convinced that he needed to get into housing development back in the 1970s.

"I decided early on it was my mission to provide affordable housing for our community, particularly families and senior citizens," he told the NNBW.

A long-time advocate for affordable housing, his company, Shelter Properties, has built thousands of apartment communities statewide, providing area citizens with housing options.

"I was lucky to work with passionate people who came together to build affordable apartment communities," Nielsen said. "Although we didn't make a lot of money, the important thing is we learned a lot of valuable lessons."

Nielsen was also instrumental in the creation of the Nevada Low Income Housing Trust Fund, a state-funded program that allocates funding to participating jurisdictions to expand and improve the supply of rental housing through new construction and rehabilitation of multifamily projects. He was also one of the founders of the Affordable Housing Resource Council, which offered technical assistance to anyone with an interest in producing affordable housing.

Nielsen commended local government entities such as the Nevada Housing Division and financial institutions have worked tirelessly to address the need for affordable housing. But he adds affordable housing will be a long-term issue especially for families and seniors.

"I think Reno-Sparks has always had a shortage of housing in general, not just affordable housing," he said. "It's a problem that will take the whole community to come together and find funding sources for affordable housing projects."

That said, Nielsen offers several programs available for housing assistance. He mentioned the Federal Home Loan Bank Competitive Affordable Housing Program, which encourages partnerships between financial institutions and housing providers to provide affordable options for homeowners.

As the 2011 Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Home Builders, Nielsen guided and supported the home building industry at a national level as it recovered from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

At a local and state level, Nielsen served as the president of both the Builders Association of Northern Nevada (BANN) and the Nevada Home Builders Association.