As the homeless population in Reno reaches an all-time high, a local charitables foundation is attempting to solve the problem with an alternative solution.
At a Reno City Council meeting on Wednesday, April 25, board member Jim Pfrommer of The Community Foundation of Western Nevada presented a solution to the city’s homeless problem. Pfrommer asked the council to sell a lot at 250 Sage Street currently owned by the city for $1 to develop affordable housing.
The council voted unanimously in favor of selling the land to pursue the foundation’s plan of building the affordable housing complex. City council members across the board are excited about what the development will do for the housing crisis in Reno.
Reno’s housing crisis is something that citizens have been concerned with for years, and due to the close proximity to California, it has only gotten worse. As of March of this year, the average rent in Reno was $1,700 according to real estate company Zillow — a price just not within reach for most residents.
The council has attempted to sell the empty lot on Sage Street as a solution to the homelessness problem in the past without luck. Ordinances and building codes put a stop to past ideas aiming to help the homeless population.
Councilwoman Neoma Jardon feels this is an alternative to the tiny home project the city has been working on since last year —one of the several projects that got stopped due to legal reasons.
“This is very exciting,” said Councilwoman Neoma Jardon. “I’ve worked a long time on a tiny home concept, and while this looks different, it offers more. It gets trucked in and can get operated before snow next winter. It’s the second rung on the housing continuum. We have the shelter and then rare single-room occupancy apartments.”
Councilman Paul McKenzie thinks the project is going to be successful merely because it is in the hands of an outside party rather than the those of the council members.
“The community land trust is an idea I feel we could truly move forward on because we’re taking these seven personalities out of the mixture,” he said nodding at the council. “And you’re going to get something accomplished a lot faster than we can.”
The development is planned to have 200 small dorm-like units. Each unit is going to include a desk, bed, closet, air conditioning unit and a locking door. Separate from the bedroom will be co-ed bathrooms, as well as kitchen areas, gyms, meeting rooms, and laundry facilities. The amenities are to be in a separate building from the rooms. Among the outdoor facilities will be fire pits and picnic areas.
During the meeting, Pfrommer and president and CEO of Community Foundation of Western Nevada Chris Askin told the council that rent would not exceed $390. Residents will have to qualify as a full-time worker and be in need of housing. According to Pfrommer and Askin, in need is defined as a teen receiving services from the Eddy House, a senior living in a motel, or someone waiting for affordable housing.
Although the land has been acquired, the developers are now looking for the remaining resources needed before breaking ground. They are looking for funding to build the complex, services, and building materials from local contractors and suppliers.