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Rent is still skyrocketing in Las Vegas. What are county leaders doing about it?

Vegas Home Prices
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, Fil

In this Wednesday, May 29, 2013, photo, the Las Vegas skyline glows at dusk as a motorist pulls into the driveway of a home, in Henderson, Nev.

At 43%, the Las Vegas area has one of the nation’s highest percentage of home renters in the country.

Rents have gotten so high that local politicians who have never uttered the words “rent control” are starting to mention it during public meetings.

Clark County commissioners have received hundreds of emails in just the last few months about their constituents' 30% or higher rent increases.

Clark County’s Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) distributed more than $220 million in rental and utility assistance during the pandemic and processed more than 57,000 applications. In February, there were close to 6,000 applications pending.

Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick said her constituents have reported shortened leases, “so that means that they can up the rent more often,” and they’re seeing those increases even if they paid rent through the pandemic.

She said her district’s senior renters hadn’t seen an increase in a long time, and even a low add-on to rent, like $100, would make it so they have to sacrifice something else.

“We're working with many of our senior complexes. There are a lot that are considered affordable housing, so they have a contract with the county where they have to keep the rent at a certain amount,” she said. “But there are also many homes that people are renting that are the big concern. So I have a senior in particular, where they raise the rent $250 a month, and the person who bought the home said, ‘I can, and that's the going rate. So, I'm going to.’”

She called it concerning for the long-term.

But, she said they got most Clark County landlords their lost dollars from the pandemic. Nearly a third of homes being sold are to investors, she said. One of the apartment complexes in her district is mostly owned by people who live outside of the U.S.

In February, she said she had not been a fan of rent control, but is now, even though most cities do not control rent increases. “It was pretty affordable to live in Las Vegas,” she said, but rent hasn’t mirrored trends of salaries or pay rates.

Kirkpatrick is looking at short-term solutions the county could put into place to help correct the market. The longer-term solutions include one Gov. Steve Sisolak announced recently, an effort to build $500 million in affordable housing.

“This is not a party issue, this is an everybody issue,” she said. “Across the valley, I think everybody is working together to build more housing as fast as we can, and quality housing.”

Marilyn Kirkpatrick, commissioner, Clark County

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Zachary Green is the Coordinating Producer and a Reporter for KNPR's State of Nevada Program. He reports on Clark County, minority affairs, health, real estate, business, and gardening. You'll occasionally hear Zachary Green reporting and fill-in hosting on the State of Nevada program.
Kristen DeSilva (she/her) is the audience engagement specialist for Nevada Public Radio. She curates and creates content for, our weekly newsletter and social media for Nevada Public Radio and Desert Companion.