Affordable housing groups look ahead after Nevada Legislature wins
Nevada affordable housing advocates are looking ahead after a legislative session in which a handful of housing-related bills passed.
“What can you do? Get in touch with your legislators and encourage three things: lift spending caps and fund to the highest level possible, support bold proposals, and block (Housing and Urban Development) proposed rules,” Brooke Schipporeit, housing advocacy organizer, National Low Income Housing Coalition, told attendees to a webinar hosted by the Nevada Housing Coalition.
Schipporeit was referring to the budget caps on non-defense discretionary spending that keeps a lid on spending for HUD programs, several new bills proposed in Congress, and new HUD regulations that, among other things, prohibit mixed-status immigrant households from public housing.
“And elevate the conversation in the 2020 presidential race,” said Schipporeit.
Several of the bold proposals she mentioned are sponsored by Democratic candidates for president. The American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, for example, which would put $445 billion into the housing trust fund, is sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., while the Rent Relief Act, which would provide a tax credit for renters who spend more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent, was introduced by Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
The national coalition collects state-level data and Schipporeit said 19 percent of Nevada households are extremely low income and that an hourly wage of $18.85 is needed to support a modest household in the state.
Nevada Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, who chaired the interim committee to study affordable housing, provided a wrapup of the bills that passed during the 2019 session of the Nevada Legislature.
“Senate Bill 448 established a state tax credit. That was probably our biggest win,” said Ratti.
The bill authorizes up to $10 million annually in tax credits for affordable housing projects, which could mean 600 more units built each year, she said.
SB 151 revised rules on summary evictions, which allows landlords to quickly evict tenants who are late paying rent. Tenants now have more time to come up with the rent money and the bill put a 5 percent cap on fees for late rent.
Denise Lopez, state director, Faith in Action NV, talked about working on the Affordable Housing Trust Fund established this year in Washoe County to assist developers with the costs of affordable housing projects.
Participants said they wanted to learn more about establishing community land trusts, non-profits which lease land to homeowners or residential developments in order to keep the cost of buying or renting more affordable.
In Reno, the Community Housing Land Trust, established in 2018, is working on Village on Sage Street, a project on five acres donated by the city of Reno which plans to offer 200 single-occupancy units renting for $400 a month.
Another area community land trust is Saint Joseph Community Land Trust, established in 2002 at Lake Tahoe.
The Nevada Housing Coalition is organizing an annual housing summit to be held this fall in Las Vegas.
Gov. Steve Sisolak made it clear Wednesday night his latest directive urging as many Nevadans as can to stay home is not martial law but a plea for everyone not in a critical, essential industry to not go out and possibly spread the coronavirus.