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Sisolak launches $500M affordable housing plan

Updated April 14, 2022 - 9:11 am

With home prices accelerating faster in Las Vegas than in cities around the country, Gov. Steve Sisolak formally launched a plan to boost affordable housing in Nevada.

Sisolak, joined by federal, state and local officials, held a news conference Thursday morning at an under-construction affordable housing project in the southwest valley to kick off a $500 million program he first unveiled in February during his State of the State address.

The initiative, Home Means Nevada, marks the “largest single investment in affordable housing” in state history, according to the governor’s office.

Nevada lawmakers recently approved allocating $250 million in federal funds for the program, which overall calls for $300 million for multifamily development, $130 million for multifamily rehabilitation and preservation, $40 million for land acquisition and $30 million to help homeowners.

State officials are now ready to start accepting applications, through NevadaRecovers.com, for new affordable housing projects funded by the program.

“Getting just one more person, just one more person into a home, or keeping one more family in their home, is what this is all about,” Sisolak said Thursday.

‘Astounding’ rent increases

Nevada has long faced a need for more affordable housing units, an issue that has only been amplified lately during Las Vegas’ housing boom — a frenzy fueled largely by rock-bottom mortgage rates and the quest for more space, including from out-of-state arrivals, amid widespread work-from-home arrangements during the pandemic.

All told, fierce demand, tight supply and rapid price increases for buyers and renters alike have made it more difficult and more expensive to land a place to live in the Las Vegas Valley.

Congresswoman Dina Titus, D-Nev., said at Thursday’s event that the lack of enough affordable housing has “long plagued Nevada.”

“We do have a problem with accessibility to affordable housing, but we also are doing more about it,” she said.

Congressman Steven Horsford, D-Nev., said affordable housing is a “real crisis right now.”

He pointed to Las Vegas’ “astounding” rent hikes, saying too many people are left “wondering what will happen if they can no longer afford these rapidly escalating rents.”

Soaring prices

As a report last month shows, Southern Nevada renters faced a much faster increase in prices than tenants around the country saw over the past two years, squeezing affordability in a state with a big shortage of low-income housing.

The typical rental rate in the Las Vegas area in February was $1,805 per month, up 32.9 percent from February 2020, according to listing site Zillow. That was the fourth-fastest increase among the 50 metro areas tracked for the report.

Nationally, rents were up 17.6 percent over the past two years, Zillow found.

With the bulk of its population in the Las Vegas Valley, Nevada has an estimated shortage of 84,320 affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income tenants, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Nevada ranks lowest in the country with just 20 available units for every 100 extremely low-income renter households, the coalition reported.

Meanwhile, homebuyers are paying rapidly rising prices, too.

Southern Nevada house prices in January were up 26.2 percent from the same month last year, compared with a 19.2 percent gain nationally, according to the most recent S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index.

That marked the eighth consecutive month that Las Vegas prices rose faster than the U.S. average.

Overall, the median sales price of previously owned single-family homes — the bulk of the market — was a record-high $460,000 in March, up 26.7 percent, or $97,000, from March of 2021, trade association Las Vegas Realtors reported.

“We keep expecting prices to slow down at some point, but it’s not happening yet,” LVR President Brandon Roberts said in a news release.

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

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