Coalition: Nevada rental housing is least affordable in US

RENO, Nev. — Rising housing costs have broken a 10-year-old record in Reno, and the most recent data shows Nevada ranks last among all states for providing affordable rental housing for its poorest families.

A report released this week based on 2016 figures also ranks Las Vegas last among U.S. metropolitan areas for the second year in a row in terms of affordable rental housing. It’s the fourth year in a row Nevada has finished last statewide in that category, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The Reno/Sparks Association of Realtors says the combined median price for an existing single-family home in Reno and Sparks reached $370,000 last month.

That tops the previous record of $365,000 set in January 2006 during the height of the housing bubble.

Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said the statewide ranking for affordable rental housing is attributable to Nevada’s small supply of subsidized housing, its abundance of low-wage jobs and the lasting effect of the nation’s housing crisis. The coalition advocates for public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the U.S. have access to affordable homes.

“Las Vegas, of course, was one of the areas most impacted by the foreclosure crisis and is a really good example of people losing their homes and becoming renters,” Yentel told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The rental housing supply has not kept up with demand, she said. “That’s increased costs for everyone, and the lowest income people are impacted the hardest.”

Titled “The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes,” the coalition study used the latest available U.S. Census survey data to identify rental housing that is affordable and available for “extremely low income” families. The federal government defines such families as making 30 percent or less of an area’s median income.

For a family of four in the Las Vegas metro area, that’s about $24,600 or less a year.

The study assumed that for housing to be considered affordable, a family should spend no more than 30 percent of its income on rent and utilities.

Las Vegas had 10 affordable rental units for every 100 extremely low income households. Nevada had 15. The national average was 35.

Las Vegas-Henderson was the only Nevada market detailed in that report.

In Reno-Sparks, prices are expected to “inch up” this year as the area enters residential real estate’s busy spring and summer season, according to Doug McIntyre, president of the Reno/Sparks Association of Realtors.

“The good news is there has been a 10 percent increase in new listings (at 532 units),” he told the Reno Gazette Journal. “With spring approaching, it’s traditionally a time when more people put their homes on the market.”

Tight supply resulting from near-zero construction during the recession combined with strong demand from buyers has fueled a housing crunch in Reno marked by skyrocketing home values.

Housing supply for Reno-Sparks, which calculates how fast the current supply will sell out at the current pace of sales minus new inventory, is at just 1.3 months compared with 2.7 months a year ago.

Supply is especially limited at the lower end or entry-level part of the market. The Biggest Little City closed last year and opened 2018 with fewer than 100 existing single-family homes in the market priced below $300,000. Reno’s median household income, which has hovered between $50,000 and $55,000 in recent years, is also unable to comfortably afford the area’s median home price.

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