Affordable housing problem in southern Nevada calls for imaginative solutions

Christophe De Vargas

Todd Stratton, President of Kavison Homes, stands at the future site of an affordable single-family home development in Mountain’s Edge on Thursday, October 28, 2021.

In the face of an urgent need for more affordable housing in southern Nevada, leaders in the public and private sectors are mobilizing.

A recent example, reported by Sun staff writer Bryan Horwath, involves a partnership between Clark County and local builder Kavison Homes to build 150 homes in the Southwest Valley.

Located on 15 acres of land along Cactus Avenue east of Buffalo Drive, the homes would be made available to households representing up to 80% of the region’s median income and would be priced at 208,000. $ to $ 240,000. As Horwath pointed out, homes in the nearby Mountain’s Edge neighborhood are priced at $ 450,000.

The public-private enterprise is not a done deal, as it involves a possible transfer of land from the US Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to Clark County.

But the land transfer is underway after a unanimous vote by the Clark County Commission to approve the project.

“This is a creative solution that will give working families the opportunity to own a home,” Commissioner Justin Jones told Horwath. “We are already exploring other opportunities like this. We wanted to run this one first to see how the process works and what the level of interest is. “

Kudos to the commission and Kavison Homes owner Todd Stratton for putting this innovative project on the table.

Recognition of the need for affordable housing is increasing in the valley, and for good reason in a community where the median price of homes resold seems to be setting a record every month. This was the case in October, when the price hit $ 410,000, eclipsing the previous record set in September and soaring 20.5% from the previous year.

These rising prices put homeownership beyond the reach of many working class families, which is a problem for everyone in our community. For Las Vegas to continue to grow and prosper, providing affordable housing to the people who are the backbone of our economy – resort workers, construction workers, etc.

At present, we are a long way from meeting this need. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the area lacks nearly 85,000 affordable housing units for very low income residents.

But we are seeing progress. Local governments are getting more creative and working with developers to ensure that building affordable housing benefits them financially. Here are some concrete cases:

• The Showboat Park Apartments, which opened this year on the site of the former Showboat Resort. The 344-unit complex was made possible through cooperation with local developer Amador “Chi Chi” Bengochea, the City of Las Vegas and other government organizations. These included the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which awarded Bengochea compensation on its fees based on differences in water use between the old complex and the apartment complex. Thanks in part to these compensations, Bengochea was able to build a complex with high-end equipment but with rental prices below market value.

• The Cine Apartments, a 270 unit affordable housing development planned for the complex anchored by Maya Cinemas in North Las Vegas. The developers of the $ 64 million project say 80% of its units will be reserved for residents earning no more than 60% of median family income, with rents starting at $ 730 per month for a one-bedroom unit. According to Zillow, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Las Vegas is $ 1,043. The city of North Las Vegas worked closely with Maya property owner Moctezuma Esparza, a Southern California film industry executive and social activist, to develop the resort.

These are positive steps forward. We applaud the heads of government, developers and advocates of affordable housing who are doing this pioneering work.

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