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Sisolak vs. Lombardo: Their plans for affordable housing

Updated September 22, 2022 - 4:51 pm

Henderson resident Carlos Padilla’s rent increased by $400 a month several months ago. When he protested, his landlord said there is no law in Nevada that says property owners cannot raise the rent as high as they want.

Padilla, a Culinary Union member, got involved in the union’s push to implement rental controls in North Las Vegas through the Neighborhood Stability initiative, which failed to get on the ballot in November. He hopes Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, who showed support for the initiative, will win re-election and work to implement rent control across the state.

Padilla joined a few Democratic organizations Thursday for a press conference comparing Sisolak’s record and goals with Clark County sheriff and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Joe Lombardo’s plans to solve the housing crisis.

“Since the pandemic we’ve been talking to countless Nevadans who report housing affordability as their most concerning issue,” said Jarrett Clark, communications director for For Our Future NV, a progressive coalition. “We’ve encountered hundreds who face skyrocketing rents, housing insecurity, greedy and abusive landlords and the threat of eviction, often through no fault of their own.”

Housing shortage

Nevada ranks last in the country for its number of affordable and available rental units, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. There is a shortage of 79,835 affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income renters. Nevada has 18 affordable and available rental homes per 100 extremely low income renter households. To compare, West Virginia is No. 1 with 61 affordable and available rental homes.

Nevada is making progress, having built 2,300 new affordable apartments in 2021, according to NevadaRecovers. The State Infrastructure Bank partnered with the AFL-CIO to invest $20 million toward new housing developments.

“Our current governor, Steve Sisolak, puts his money where his mouth is,” said Maria-Teresa Liebermann-Parraga, deputy director of Battle Born Progress, during the press conference. “He, throughout the pandemic and even after and into the next legislative session, he knows how important housing is and affordability is for the people of Nevada.”

Liebermann-Parraga cited Sisolak’s use of federal dollars from federal relief programs into making sure that Nevadans can stay in their homes. He started the “Home Means Nevada” initiative that invests $500 million from the American Rescue Plan to lower the cost of housing, help seniors stay in their homes and increase housing availability. The initiative will create up to 1,700 affordable units in the state and preserve up to 4,000 affordable units, according to Sisolak’s campaign.

Sisolak extended the state’s eviction moratorium through May of last year and directed his office to coordinate rental assistance programs during the pandemic, Clark said. He also signed Senate Bill 151, which established different rights for tenants, including capping the cost of late fees on rent. Sisolak previously said in June that he and the Legislature will take up rent control at the next session.

“Governor Sisolak is already making progress to improve housing affordability, and we need to get him another four years if we hope to keep more Nevada families housed,” Clark said.

If re-elected, Sisolak wants to work with the legislature to crack down on out-of-state speculators and corporations buying up land and driving up prices for families, and he wants to tackle eviction reform to ensure seniors on fixed incomes are not evicted by out-of-state landlords “putting profits over Nevadans,” his campaign said.

Blaming Sisolak

Lombardo wasn’t available for an interview, but his campaign spokesperson Elizabeth Ray said in a statement that under Sisolak, Nevada has the worst available housing crisis in the nation that is a result of his “inaction and incompetence.”

Ray said Sisolak has not addressed the housing crisis because he “has never experienced how difficult it is to pay rent, pay a mortgage and find affordable housing in the Biden-Sisolak economy.”

Ray also directed the Review-Journal to Lombardo’s website where he details his plans for affordable housing.

Lombardo’s website says even with Sisolak’s investment of federal dollars into affordable housing, “this money will barely make a dent in the over 84,000 affordable housing units that are currently needed across Nevada.”

Lombardo wants to implement a long-term plan to build affordable housing infrastructure that will continue to serve Nevadans after those federal funds run out. He will work to streamline permitting and licensing for housing projects and will direct the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Nevada Housing Division to provide incentives and defer payments on land that would be paid after development.

“Right now, home does not mean Nevada to as many people as it could or should. Joe is committed to making Nevada a place where current and future Nevadans can fulfill the American dream by not only providing access to affordable housing, but also ensuring residents can pay their rent without breaking the bank and have every opportunity to work toward owning a home,” his website says.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.

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