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Clark County supports new affordable housing while state unveils plan

The Clark County Commission approved a plan this week to add more than 600 affordable housing units to the region from seven developers recommended to receive federal funding for their projects.

County lawmakers on Tuesday selected the developers from 12 applications reviewed by the county’s Community Development Advisory Committee, which made the recommendations, officials said. The projects will now be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the state’s housing division for approval.

Overall, the projects total more than $5.6 million, according to a county staff report. Three projects would create 398 affordable housing units for seniors. Four would build out 204 such units for families. Income limits would apply.

The housing projects, including one in North Las Vegas and another in Mesquite, come amid rising rent costs in the valley that have threatened the livelihoods of vulnerable populations, including seniors.

“These developments will provide much-needed affordable housing for our older neighbors and families struggling to make ends meet,” Commission Chairman Jim Gibson said in a statement. “It is important that we continue to support the construction of new affordable homes in Southern Nevada so residents of all income levels have safe and decent places to live.”

The county says it has supported 1,100 affordable units that are either built or under construction in the past two years, but the need is far greater: County officials believe there is a shortage of more than 80,000 homes for residents earning less than 50 percent of the area median income.

State initiative

The affordable housing crisis faced in the county extends beyond jurisdictional lines. Gov. Steve Sisolak proposed a $500 million “Home Means Nevada” initiative during his State of the State address last month to lower housing costs and increase housing availability statewide.

The initiative, to be bankrolled by federal American Rescue Plan funds, would invest $300 million in new and affordable multi-family developments, $130 million in preserving existing sites and $40 million in acquiring land for new projects.

Coupled with other debt funding, the plan could produce up to 1,700 new units for families and seniors who earn less than 60 percent of the area median income, the governor’s office said. It could potentially set aside up to one-fifth of those units for people making less than 30, 40 or 50 percent of area median income.

An additional 700 to 800 affordable units could be created by acquiring nearly 100 acres of land, the office said.

Democratic state Sen. Fabian Donate, who co-sponsored a bill that failed in 2021 to help promote affordable housing with guidelines for better project tracking and long-term planning, said he believed the “Home Means Nevada” initiative signaled that the state is finally starting to prioritize housing.

Donate, 26, a health care administrator, said he was particularly encouraged to see an emphasis on seniors and housing preservation and $30 million toward an incentive program to drop the cost of new homes, which could bring home ownership within reach for young people.

“It’s a good thing that I think is long overdue,” he said.

The Las Vegas City Council also recently earmarked money toward the housing crisis, approving $23.5 million for affordable housing last month from its $130 million tranche of federal American Rescue Plan funds.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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