By Carla O’Day
A plot of land near the intersection of Kietzke Lane and East Second Street has been targeted for affordable housing by the Reno City Council, which voted Wednesday to approve a commercial real estate appraisal for the purpose.
Plans are for the city to use Community Development Block Grant funds to acquire the property for $400,000 and then lease it back to a service provider to develop the project. These funds would also be used for soft costs, such as appraisals and title costs associated with the purchase.
“If we purchase the property, there would be a subsequent agreement for whoever uses it—either in a lease or some other form—and it would come back to the Council for authorization,” said Bill Thomas, assistant city manager.
CDBG is a federal program that allocates dollars to municipalities to address development needs.
The project would be geared toward renters earning 30 percent or less of the area’s median income. Washoe County’s median income was $52,910 in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“We often get highly criticized for a lack of these type of projects,” Mayor Hillary Schieve said. “I know people say that’s the county’s job, but this is a different day. One thing we’ve started to do is work with the county and now I think we have a strong relationship and I think we can definitely do this together.”
The said parcel, at1760 Lewis St., is 3/4 of an acre and for sale. It currently contains three homes, two occupied by renters. Cost to relocate the tenants would come from the remaining $100,000 of the city’s CDBG allotment of $500,000, which was set aside in May.
Desmond Craig, city senior planner for community housing, said the units would be used as is and serve 12 individuals. Those relocated will not be sent to weekly motels, he said.
Betty Bishop, a leader with ACTIONN, an acronym for Acting in Community Together in Organizing Northern Nevada, said such projects are needed in Reno.
“It’s a very positive direction to take and I’m encouraged by it,” Bishop said.
City management analyst Elaine Wiseman said taking this action would save the community money. For example, the cost of jail, hospital, detoxification and rehabilitation for a dozen homeless people collectively costs about $657,000 annually.
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.