The Nevada Housing Coalition estimates the state has an overall deficit of more than 105,000 affordable housing units, and about 84,000 units for extremely low-income renters.
Currently, the 480-unit complex Decatur Commons set to be completed by January 2022 already has a list of more than 3,000 people waiting to apply for the apartments. When completed, Decatur Commons will include 240 units for seniors and 240 units for families and would provide rentals for different income levels.
Tim Veenstra, the Chief Operating Officer for Nevada HAND, the nonprofit developer constructing Decatur Commons said: “Last week, the list was 2,500 and this week it is 3,000 people wanting to get into this (complex). It’s an overwhelming demand for housing. We have the biggest gap in Nevada between the supply and demand for affordable housing of any state. Building is really the only way out.”
He stated: “This has been under design and in planning stages for years. A big chunk is putting up the financing for this. There are about seven pieces of financing from loans, government loans, bank loans and tax credits that come together to make this happen. It’s a multi-year project with about 12 to 18 months of construction. We will be ready in January.”
According to Veenstra, the complex which cost about $110 million took years of planning and required “multiple layers of financing” ranging from bank loans to government funding.
“They are all income-restricted units, from 30% of the area median income from that household up to 80%,” Veenstra said. “It’s a little bit wider than your normal affordable housing. All of our units, our 4,200 units across our portfolio, are full. Every unit is occupied. We are getting about 2,000 calls a day for people seeking housing across our portfolio. It’s just incredible the demand for affordable housing. We have a lot of difficult conversations for people who are really in a difficult situation and need housing and we are full.”
Between the State Infrastructure Bank, which was revised in the 2021 legislative session and could provide loans and state assistance for a variety of projects like affordable housing developments, and $6.7 billion provided to Nevada from the American Rescue Plan Act, $338 million specifically set aside for housing, some of the funding gaps could be alleviated, meaning the state might finally put a dent in its housing needs.
“The ARPA money will be able to condense and shrink those financing timelines quite a bit and make it easier,” Veenstra said. “If we keep building 10 of these (housing projects) a year, that will be 5,000 units a year.”
Neither funding component includes the proposed $332 billion outlined in the Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution package that could also go toward the creation of affordable housing.
Christine Hess, the executive director of the Nevada Housing Coalition, said the two already available funding sources provide a historic opportunity and that the state is finally “poised for progress.”
“Our opportunity is now. You hear our leadership really centered on housing in their conversation and engaged in housing,” she said. “We are set to make some progress, but what I will say is it’s not quick enough. The investments aren’t for today, and we have Nevadans struggling today.”
State lawmakers passed Senate Bill 430, which expanded the definition of what types of projects could be financed through the State Infrastructure Bank to include items like affordable housing, food insecurity, public education and health care.
“We need the soft financing and gap financing sometimes to cover operations costs,” Hess said. “Those are some possibilities for the State Infrastructure Bank. As the State Infrastructure Bank develops, those are things the affordable housing community is definitely going to be looking to, to essentially make sure we are getting a gap filled in our financing needs.”