Washoe County Commissioners gave the approval on a unique project that will help low income residents find housing and reduce the number of people living in homeless shelters and children in foster care. The Board voted unanimously last night to authorize the County’s Social Services Department to acquire three land parcels in Sparks through support from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program 3 (NSP3). The Board also authorized the County to go to bid for design of 3-duplex housing units and to bid for construction of a unit on Spokane Ave. in Reno.
“Washoe County is the only NSP3 grantee in the nation to utilize these funds to leverage and support existing social services programs for families in need,” said Kevin Schiller, Washoe County Social Services Director. “We’ve received $1.7 million from the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and $400,000 from the State of Nevada, so this will really improve service and save money, as we’re also establishing partnerships with the private sector to take over the properties once the program is up and running. The grant will be used in Sparks and Reno to stabilize areas impacted by foreclosures.” Because the absence of permanent housing is a factor in 20 percent of the County’s child welfare cases, the preference provided to at risk families for those units will keep families intact and keep children out of foster care.
Schiller also said the NSP3 was established for the purpose of stabilizing property values and arresting the physical decline of communities that have suffered from foreclosures and abandonment in their local housing markets. Washoe County will help by using the money to invest in housing in specific target neighborhoods, and providing low income housing options for qualifying clients. No local County dollars are being used.
“The Washoe County NSP3 concept is to integrate the low income housing options with the delivery of social services to child welfare clients,” added Schiller.
Important points of the Program include:
- $2.135 million in investment in Northern Nevada
- Public/Private collaboration
- The savings in foster care/institutional/case management annual costs is approximately $261,000, after paying for all the operational costs of the six duplex unit
- Helping to stabilize neighborhood property values
- Reducing foster care and institutional costs associated with child welfare interventions
- Strategic links to the 10 year plan to end homelessness in Washoe County by establishing community-wide partnerships
- Affordable housing capacity building
- The structures will be built using state of the art sustainable green building practices
- The County will use a competitive bid process to contract with local builders to construct the units over the next six months
The Washoe County Department of Social Services currently provides housing assistance through a variety of different programs for clients in the child welfare system, both directly through subsidization and indirectly through pass through funding. This provides early reunification for children, which leads to improved well-being for children and families. Social Services will also coordinate the Program with the Reno Housing Authority and the Northern Nevada Community Housing Resources Board.
For more information on WCDSS, please visit: www.washoecounty.us/socsrv/.