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Washoe County Affordable Housing Trust Fund established (sponsored)

By ThisIsReno

Citizens within the Reno-Sparks region are well aware of the housing crisis in our midst; whether purchasing or renting, finding affordable housing here can be difficult. But with supplylow and demand high, for low-income individuals and families in this region the dream ofsecuring a home or apartment can simply be out of reach.

As a Nevada health insurer, SilverSummit Healthplan is in a unique position to understand andaddress the intersection between health care and housing. There are other factors that contributeto an individual’s health and wellness, beyond access to medical care, including housinginsecurity. These Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) occur entirely outside of the provider’soffice.

SilverSummit partners with communities to help deliver innovative solutions. On May 25, 2021,the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners approved an agreement with theCommunity Foundation of Northern Nevada to establish the Washoe County AffordableHousing Trust Fund, where SilverSummit was the first partner to provide funding.

Washoe County Manager Eric Brown

“I am pleased that with a $75,000 investment, SilverSummit has committed to be the firstorganization in Nevada to invest in Washoe County’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund,” said EricBrown Washoe County Manager.

“This commitment allows the County to move forward to incentivize the development of affordable housing projects, which are lacking in ourcommunity,” continued Brown. “By strategically addressing behavioral health and the needs ofindividuals experiencing homelessness, SilverSummit has proven to understand our regionalchallenges, and will be an important partner in helping us overcome community issues. I look forward to working with SilverSummit Healthplan to continue to advance our community foryears to come.”

The collaborative efforts of Washoe County and the cities of Reno and Sparks, respectively, haveresulted in creative and sustainable strategies to improve the availability of transitional andaffordable housing. A cornerstone of these initiatives is the public/private partnerships currentlyunderway in the region.

“The creation of the Washoe County Affordable Housing Trust Fund in2019 was the first step to creating a powerful local tool to make meaningful progress in ouraffordable housing shortage at the local level,” said Christine Hess, Executive Director of theNevada Housing Coalition. “The seed investment by SilverSummit brings timely resources tothis tool. Research has shown for every dollar invested in trusts of this kind, affordable housingprojects receive an eight-fold increase in total funding.”

“SilverSummit knowswhat we know – housing is healthcare,” added Hess. “We are excited for this next phase and look forward tosupporting the County and its efforts to grow its capacity for locally driven affordable housingsolutions.”

SilverSummit Healthplan CEO Eric Schmacker with one of the housing units at Hope Springs. Image: Eric Marks

“SilverSummit Healthplan is delighted to be the founding investor of the Washoe CountyAffordable Housing Trust,” said Eric Schmacker, Plan President and CEO, SilverSummitHealthplan. “With this initial funding in place, Washoe County, and its collaborative partnercities, can secure the support of like-minded industry leaders who know that public-privatepartnerships are key to moving the needle on the housing issues that affect the entirecommunity.”

“SilverSummit applauds the county for its innovativeapproach to offering more affordable housing options to its residents. These commitmentssupport the development of needed affordable housing projects in Washoe County, and weencourage other organizations to follow suit,” Schmacker continued.

Working with community partners like Northern Nevada Hopes, SilverSummit Healthplanprovides access to a full range of available housing services, from local staff working directlywith community organization who provide direct services, to investing in bridge and transitionalhousing, such as the plan has done with a recent $100,000 investment to the Tiny Homes Project.

“Investing in affordable housing is investing in the health of the community,” said Schmacker.Permanent housing is a common goal for all those working with individuals who experiencehomelessness, and SilverSummit supports options to ensure residents have choices as they movethrough the housing continuum.

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