Affordable housing problems in Tahoe addressed at upcoming TRYP-hosted meeting (opinion)
Tribune Opinion Columnist
It is great to see our community coming together to address the difficult and complex topic of affordable housing. We are collectively sharing our thoughts on the causes, impacts and solutions needed to progress our community. This is a critical first step toward a long-term solution that will work.
This week the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation released its 2016 North Tahoe-Truckee housing study. The study covers baseline information about the issues and needs surrounding affordable housing. The focus of the report is on the North Shore and Truckee, but the issues we face on Tahoe’s South Shore are the same. You can find the full 424-page report at http://www.ttcf.net/impact/regional-housing-study. Take time to read the executive summary and be aware of the real crisis we are facing.
Housing is considered affordable if less than 30 percent of a household’s income before taxes is spent on rent or a mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc. The 2016 housing study reveals that 49 percent of residents are paying more than 30 percent for housing and 26 percent of people are paying greater than 50 percent. In addition to housing being expensive, quality housing is difficult to find. In the report’s study area, 17,100 housing units are more than 30 years old and in need of serious repair. Affordable housing is not only about price, but a quality and safe place to live as well.
Unfortunately, affordable housing is only one part of the equation. Addressing a single aspect of the bigger issue will not solve the problem. We must strive to revitalize our economy by attracting new and diverse industries to the area. Our community will always rely on tourism dollars, but it should not be the only thing we count on to support our economy. Diversifying will bring well-paying jobs and careers for community members to make an actual living in the area. It does not matter how affordable housing is if there are no jobs to be found.
Again referencing the 2016 Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation report, 46.6 percent of people in Truckee and the North Shore commute outside of the region for work. Another 58.6 percent of the area’s workforce commute into the region for work. Again, this is the same problem we face on the South Shore; many families have been forced to move to the valley just to afford a place to live. This should sound backwards to you. We need to create an economic base where people can work and live in the same community.
It is important to remember that we are not the only community struggling with these same issues. Not only can we look to others for new ideas; we can become a model to be looked at and inspire others.
It is time to get involved and speak up. Tahoe Regional Young Professionals is hosting a Tahoe Town Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 17, to talk about affordable-housing issues with a panel of local experts.
Following a panel presentation, there will be a Q-and-A portion. Questions can be submitted online before the event at http://www.tahoetryp.org/member-benefits/civic-engagement or by using the hashtag #TahoeTownHall on Twitter or Facebook.
The free event will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Tahoe Beach Retreat and Lodge Conference Center in South Lake Tahoe.
Devin Middlebrook is the civic engagement committee chair for the Tahoe Regional Young Professionals. For comments, questions, or more information on how to get involved please email Devin and email@example.com or visit http://www.TahoeTryp.org.
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