As part of the overall effort to prevent homelessness and help the homeless become housed again, the County commissioners have taken significant steps to support affordable housing in Southern Nevada.
The commissioners have supported funding plans for new affordable housing developments. They have designated land for future affordable housing developments. Also, they have directed County staff to establish several programs that will create incentives for new affordable housing developments and preserve existing affordable housing for very low-income households.
Today in Clark County, there is a shortage of 59,370 affordable homes for extremely low-income households, which have an annual income at or below 30 percent of the area median income. If one includes very low-income households, the shortage here grows to 78,112 homes. For extremely low-income households, there are 14 affordable and available rental homes per 100 homes in Clark County, which is the second fewest among all counties in the nation, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The lack of affordable housing in Southern Nevada greatly affects those working to escape homelessness and those at risk of becoming homeless. To address these issues, the commissioners have provided additional funding to homeless outreach, shelter services and other services. They have also worked to increase affordable housing opportunities in Southern Nevada.
In November 2018, the commissioners supported plans for a new affordable housing development for seniors on vacant land near Pebble Road and Eastern Avenue. By unanimous vote, the commissioners directed County staff to negotiate a development agreement with Coordinated Living of Southern Nevada and Ovation Development, which would build the senior housing complex. Under a best case scenario, all necessary approvals could be granted in 2020, and the development could be under construction in 2021.
In December 2018, the commissioners supported designating 10 parcels in the southwest, currently federal land, for affordable housing development. The parcels are a combined 128 acres and could hold about 2,000 apartment units depending upon the specific development plans ultimately proposed.
In August 2019, the commissioners approved funding plans for two affordable housing developments that will help more than 400 low-income seniors and families.
The Blue Diamond Senior Apartments is a new project that will create 112 one-bedroom units and 83 two-bedroom units for low-income seniors. The development will be built on the southeast corner of Blue Diamond Road and South Quarterhorse Lane and is expected to open in summer 2021.
The Woodcreek Apartments is an existing complex at 4485 Pennwood Avenue with 232 units including 208 apartments with two or more bedrooms. The proposal calls for renovating all the apartments during 2019 and 2020 as the units become vacant naturally.
Both apartment complexes will be for residents who earn less than 60 percent of the area median income. For example, a family of four would have an annual income under $41,820; and a household with two seniors would have an annual income under $33,480.
The commissioners approved the allocation of up to $39 million in private activity bonds to support these developments. Private activity bonds are tax-exempt bonds that may be issued to support private-sector projects with a public benefit, such as creating or sustaining affordable housing units. The bonds are not guaranteed by the government but may be linked to tax credits.
The Blue Diamond Senior Apartments, which is being proposed by Coordinated Living of Southern Nevada Inc., would use up to $13 million of these bonds to help fund this $33.1 million project.
The Woodcreek Apartments, proposed by Fairfield Residential, would use up to $13 million of these bonds to help fund this $48.5 million project.
In October 2019, the commissioners supported establishing several new programs to create incentives for new affordable housing developments and preserve existing affordable housing for very low-income households.
- Community Land Trust – A land trust could be used to secure deed restrictions on affordable single-family homes that would require them to remain affordable into the future.
- Local Housing Trust Fund – This would receive and distribute funding to support specific affordable housing developments and programs.
- Green Tape Programs – These would give affordable housing developments priority when applying for local government permits and reviews.
- Land Bank – This would acquire and hold land for future affordable housing developments.
- Rebate Programs – These would seek waivers or reductions in utility and government fees associated with new construction or extensive renovations of existing affordable housing.
- Zoning Tools – These could include changes to local government land-use regulations to make it easier for affordable housing developers to apply for and receive waivers of parking and other requirements.
- Inclusionary Zoning/Fee in Lieu – This could require developers to include affordable housing units in new residential projects, or require payment to the Local Housing Trust Fund in lieu of providing those units.
Each of these programs will require additional review or approvals before they can be implemented.