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Why Is Affordable Housing In Las Vegas So Difficult To Find?

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Affordable housing has not reached a crisis point in Las Vegas as it has in Reno, but there are still big issues in finding quality affordable homes.

According to CJ Mathe of the Nevada Housing Division, there are almost 171,000 families who need affordable housing in Clark County. There are only 32,000 units available.

Manthe said the tighter supply is having a trickle down effect. 

"What that's causing is that rental rates are going up. Home prices are going up," she said. 

Manthe said there are waiting lists for apartments and people are struggling to find homes they can afford to rent or buy. 

The housing division defines "affordable housing" as someone paying no more than 30 percent of his or her income towards rent. So for someone who earns $15 an hour, she should pay about $780 a month in rent. 

Currently, 42 percent of renters in Nevada are paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing.

Manthe said when people spend too much of their income on rent they can't pay for other necessities like groceries, gas, and health care.

Lorri Murphy works for Ovation Development, which builds both affordable and market driven housing. 

Ovation and other developers use a private-public partnership to build affordable housing. The federal government makes tax credits available for developers to sell to investors and large corporations. The money from the sale of the credits can be used to build housing that developers can rent at a lower cost. 

Support comes from

Murphy said her company decided to get into building affordable housing during the recession when other builders had stopped building all together. It was also something the owner of the company Alan Molasky had always wanted to do. 

Richard Serfas is with the Urban Land Institute. He said the cities that are doing well rebounding from the recession are the ones with a variety of housing options.

"After the recession, in the cities that are strong and rebounding well are the ones that have a variety of housing types for people in these different situations," he said.

He said a growing trend in housing is subdivisions that offer mixed-income housing. Instead of homes all about the same size and price, there are different sizes of homes, different price points and different amenities.

 

Guests

CJ Manthe, director, Nevada Housing Division; Lorri Murphy of Ovation Development; Richard Serfas, Nevada District Council, Urban Land Institute

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