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Planning for Affordable Housing on the South Shore – Let’s Go!

by Matt Lucksinger – South Lake Tahoe Realtor

It’s time for the residents of South Lake Tahoe to employ one of their greatest characteristics with regard to affordable housing – creativity. Creativity is a prerequisite to thriving and sustaining in this town, it always has been. How many times has someone off the hill asked how you can make a living being here? We do it by willing it with creative, even experimental ideas, and now we need to do that together to put a halt to a terrible trend with housing.

Awareness and anecdotes of the housing crunch for South Tahoe residents are on the rise, from the long-time renters being displaced with the recovery of homes prices and sales, to the school district struggling to recruit additional talent due to unattractive housing affordability. The good news? Now is the time to actively address the issue when we are feeling its effects most. Yes, economic cycles will continue to roll through, housing prices following, we know this. When the markets next soften we’ll see improvement in the housing affordability dilemma if left untouched – temporarily – but with it the town’s economic fortunes will have also taken a hit. Planning to make residential housing attainable means systematically exploring the components that we, the residents, creatively shout out. We must choose which elements to really focus on, have local teams actually in charge of leading them through, and when pulled together have a tangible plan of action. We need every bit of positive energy out there to drive this process to an impactful end – but it’s time to try some things!

Alright, here’s my attempt to get moving toward to something real in terms of a solution – a few thoughts for your hashing, bashing, maybe even enhancing:

1. Higher paying jobs come from the presence of businesses modeled for higher revenues than our typical resort town establishments. There is so much to sell here, from the flourishing schools and college to the improving infrastructure for communications. Access to Reno International is easy. Our gorgeous environment and associated regulations can find a way to support rehabilitation of existing sites for new business.

2. Remote work is real, it’s already here. Off the hill jobs that people bring with them or reach out and find help our economy with full-time residents, buying and occupying houses and actively participating in our community. Advertise this.

3. Help local buyers compete. Many locals are currently competing with investor cash for affordable housing under $350,000. Loans such as the FHA, which are designed to make housing more accessible to folks with smaller amounts of cash for down payment, are viewed as laborious and risky by some sellers. Can we propose an incentive to sellers, at the city/county/state level, to help even the playing field? What about a tax credit from the state for selling to a primary home occupant?

4. Should we re-institute a first-time home buyer program at the city and/or county level? There is always the downside of a downturn in home values, but the upside advantages to the community might make it worth the risk to a pool of public revenues. Locally, could we even look into using a portion of the existing taxes and fees generated on vacation rentals to incent local home ownership?

What else? Let’s go!