The City of Reno’s midpoint update on the “1,000 Homes in 120 Days” initiative approved earlier this year revealed housing developers have submitted more than a dozen projects with over 1,600 units for review. Housing advocates, however, voiced reservations over the lack of affordable housing in the submissions.
“1,000 Home in 120 Days” is a plan to increase housing developments in Reno by deferring city fees for builders constructing environmentally and socially conscious housing.
The number of applications and proposed units have surpassed the City’s initial expectations for project submissions. Staff is expecting more proposals before the end of the submission deadline on Jan. 30, 2020.
Developers said that the deferral of start-up fees would help them build homes more quickly. The City says the postponements mean they will not lose any money on the proposal.
Mayor Hillary Schieve said she is excited about the housing plan’s potential to help solve Reno’s housing crisis.
“Our staff created this bold plan that helps speed up new housing but also makes sure the City gets every dime it’s owed. A true win-win,” she said.
Although the City is enthusiastic about the project proposals, housing advocates are concerned about the lack of stipulations for affordable housing.
J.D. Klippenstein, executive director of the housing advocacy group ACTIONN, told This is Reno, “This would be kind of a one-off initiative, and I think we’re at a time in our housing challenges that we need bolder and larger policy solutions.”
ACTIONN’s lead organizer, Aria Overli, added, “Incentives to developers should do more to address the housing crisis. [This initiative] contains no requirement for affordability in a time when it’s most desperately needed.”
City spokesperson Jon Humbert said that the city “wants to foster different types of housing to meet different needs. [The City] does not want to create red-lining of affordable housing and non-affordable districts.”
More housing options, he said, may ultimately decrease rent prices.
“We need a spectrum of different types of housing,” he maintained.
One proposed project, as an example, includes senior housing units.
City staff will give an update on the initiative at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, and councilmembers will provide feedback on the total number of units they are looking to approve, the minimum number of units per project, as well as specific locations for the projects.
The first application review of the project submissions in a staff report to council shows a mixture of multi-family, student housing, townhomes and senior housing types.
City officials said submissions have to align with the strict criteria listed below:
- The City of Reno will defer (not waive) sewer connection and traffic impact permit fees to accelerate the construction of 1,000 townhouses, apartment, or condominium units within Opportunity Zones (see map below).
- These deferrals will be provided as a “loan” against the project, which must be repaid under a predetermined schedule through an agreement submitted by the project developer and approved by the Reno City Council.
- Developers could defer up to an estimated $8,400 per unit, to help kick start their project.
- The developer must demonstrate control of the land on which the project is proposed at the time of submission of the agreement.
- Proposals to use the program must be submitted by January 30, 2020, and the applicant must have successfully completed the construction of at least one multi-family project valued at $10 million or more and demonstrate the financial viability of the project.
- Projects must be a minimum of 30 dwelling units in size.
- Projects must start construction within 18 months of execution of the project agreement.