Progressive advocates on Thursday called on voters to consider housing affordability issues when heading to the polls this November during the general election.
During a press conference live streamed on Facebook they championed incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak over his opponent Joe Lombardo, who they said has no plan for addressing the state’s housing crisis.
Gov. Sisolak in April launched the Home Means Nevada Initiative, putting $500 million in American Rescue Plan Act dollars toward affordable housing projects. In addition to preserving affordable housing, rehabilitating homes and increasing homeownership, the program provides funding to help develop new multifamily housing for low and extremely low-income renters.
Applications submitted by developers to the program quickly exceeded the amount of funding available.
Amber Falgout, an advocate with Battle Born Progress, said the initiative is a good start and applauded Sisolak for addressing the issue.
“We have a sincere problem in this country, and especially in this state, with the privatization of our rental market, and it is hurting people across Nevada,” Falgout said.
Falgout and fellow advocate Jaaziel Ozuna, of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada Action, said Lombardo lacks a real plan for addressing the housing crisis and instead says it is a supply and demand issue.
“In contrast [to Gov. Sisolak], Republican nominee Joe Lombardo will only look out for greedy corporate landlords who take advantage of their tenants. He doesn’t have a plan to help families in Nevada stay afloat,” Ozuna said. She urged Nevadans to be engaged during the upcoming election.
“We cannot afford to be apathetic in this election,” Ozuna said.
Lombardo’s campaign website outlines four points that are part of his “Plan for Nevada,” one of which is expanding affordable housing.
His plan hinges on “free market competition” and helping developers to get shovels in the ground more quickly. He says this includes a streamlined licensing and building process, and less “red tape” and “cumbersome land restrictions.” He also said he plans to work with Nevada’s congressional delegation to free up more federal lands to be used for community development.
Other housing policies floated by advocates as potential issues during the 2023 legislative session include a ban on summary evictions and rent control.
A recent report using U.S. Census data revealed that more than a quarter of Nevadans had seen their rent increase by at least $250 over the past year. More than 43% of Nevadans who rent pay at least $1,5000 a month.
“We have seen families move in with grandparents…they simply cannot afford to pay the rent,” Falgout said. “We have reached a system where rent is for profit and it is not a sustainable system here in Nevada. Our wages are too low and rent is too high.”
Ozuna agreed. “There is one issue that we continue to hear over and over again: that people are struggling to maintain a roof over their heads.”