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East Las Vegas affordable housing development to expand

An affordable housing community will expand in east Las Vegas to help address rising housing costs for senior citizens.

Developers have broken ground on Desert Oasis II, a planned 43-unit apartment complex built and operated by nonprofit Volunteers of America National Services. It will add to the existing 75 senior housing units at Desert Oasis I, 4445 Diamond Head Drive. Developers hope to open in fall 2022.

Both buildings offer wrap-around supportive services to help keep seniors living independently, said Sharon Wilson Geno, chief operating officer for Volunteers of America National Services.

“Our residents are living better and healthier and longer independently and not going to nursing homes and assisted licensed care, because we have a service coordination model already in place,” she said.

Rent at both buildings is based on income, with residents expected to have at or below 80 percent of the area median income. Leadership plans to improve its service coordination model by adding an “aging with options” program, a community health worker and part-time wellness nurse.

Desert Oasis II will include a recreational clubhouse with a computer room, exercise room, laundry facilities and a community garden, developers said.

The nonprofit began the expansion process about two years ago after a development director visited Las Vegas realized the affordable housing need in the city, Wilson Geno said.

“(She) was taken aback by the number of seniors that she saw in the street,” she said. “It was just clear that the homeless population in Las Vegas has grown dramatically.”

The project is supported by funding through the Nevada Housing Division’s Low Income Tax Credit program, HOME funds provided by the city of Las Vegas and Clark County and United Health Care, according to Volunteers of America.

Affordable senior housing is critical to addressing the aging senior population but can’t solve the growth issue, Wilson Geno said. Data from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University in 2016 found that nearly 10 million older adults were burdened by the cost of housing.

Wilson Geno hopes that wrap-around services help address part of the challenge.

“You’ve heard all the data around the coming silver tsunami of growth of baby boomers who are living longer, they’re living with more chronic conditions because of the advancement of medical health, and they’re living on less resources because their savings were never designed to live past what at the time was the average longevity,” Wilson Geno said. “It’s important because we’re, as a nation, going to have to care for them more cost effectively.”

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.

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