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Las Vegas affordable housing projects near completion as rents soar

An affordable housing developer is close to finishing construction on two new complexes in Las Vegas as tenants around Southern Nevada face big rent hikes.

Nevada HAND expects to complete all units at Decatur Commons Family and the neighboring Decatur Commons Senior next month, President and CEO Audra Hamernik said Friday.

The two properties, at Decatur Boulevard and U.S. Highway 95, near Meadows Mall, have 480 residential units combined and cost $110 million to build, she said.

Tenants started moving to the family complex in February, she noted.

All told, Nevada HAND is receiving 2,000 calls a day from people seeking affordable housing, and it only has a “handful” of vacancies every week in its 4,700-unit portfolio, she said.

“The demand is just outpacing our supply,” Hamernik told the Review-Journal.

Nevada has long faced a need for more affordable housing units, an issue that was only amplified over the past year or so as Las Vegas’ housing market accelerated. Strong demand, tight supply and rapid price increases for buyers and renters alike made it more difficult and more expensive to land a place to live in the valley.

Statewide, there is an estimated shortage of 79,835 affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income tenants, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Hamernik said Nevada HAND’s buildings have historically been at or near full occupancy.

“I think the pandemic has put a spotlight on affordable housing, because it impacted so many households, but the demand has been there for a long time,” she said. “This isn’t a new issue.”

Southern Nevada’s fast-rising rental rates are outpacing the national average.

The typical rent for a Las Vegas-area home in May was $1,847, up 18.8 percent from a year earlier, listing site Zillow reported. Nationally, the typical rent that month was $1,979, up 15.9 percent.

According to Hamernik, the average rent across Nevada HAND’s portfolio is $733.

Meanwhile, the median sales price of previously owned single-family homes — the bulk of the market — was a record $482,000 in May, up 25.2 percent, or $97,000, from a year earlier, according to trade association Las Vegas Realtors.

Southern Nevada, long viewed as a more affordable outpost, was even deemed one of the worst markets in the nation for first-time homebuyers in a recent report from personal-finance site Bankrate.

U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., toured the Decatur Commons Family complex Friday and said Southern Nevada has “always needed affordable housing, like so many communities.”

“It’s a drop in the bucket,” she said of Nevada HAND’s newly built units, “but we start somewhere.”

Gov. Steve Sisolak this year launched a $500 million program to boost affordable housing in the state. The initiative, Home Means Nevada, is designed to fund multifamily development and rehabilitation and to help homeowners.

It marks the “largest single investment in affordable housing” in state history, the governor’s office previously said.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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