South Lake Tahoe housing crisis a top priority (Opinion) |

South Lake Tahoe housing crisis a top priority (Opinion)

Devin Middlebrook
Guest column

The city of South Lake Tahoe is in a housing crisis. This is no surprise to anyone that calls Tahoe home.

Devin Middlebrook

In the last decade, housing prices have tripled. The 2020 census found the median home price at Tahoe rose to $950,000. Wages have not kept pace, making living in Tahoe increasingly difficult. Our City Council views the housing crisis as a top priority and continues to invest in housing to help residents and businesses.

In direct response to the housing crisis, the city aims to build more housing units, unlock existing housing supply, and ensure quality housing for all. The lack of housing impacts the entire community, including the local economy and businesses. Our approach focuses on the entire spectrum of housing, including the missing middle. We must have homes everyone can afford if anyone is to call Tahoe home.

Over the past year, the city has leveraged $2.4 million in local funds to secure $65 million from state and federal funding sources for the creation of a 248-unit affordable housing development called Sugar Pine Village. This funding includes $4 million for local solar and pedestrian infrastructure improvements. Thanks to public-private partnerships, the project is moving quickly and will be the first affordable housing project constructed in the city in almost 10 years. On a smaller scale, Saint Joseph’s Community Land Trust is set to begin construction on three homes in Al Tahoe on city donated land. Big or small, every unit counts.

While new housing is critical, we cannot build our way out of this problem. In December 2021, the city partnered with Landing Locals to launch the Lease to Locals program. The new program provides one-time grants to property owners to rent vacant or under-utilized homes to city residents at a price affordable to low- and moderate-income households. Our goal is to place 100 residents in homes this year. Lease to Locals is one of the many examples of the city’s creative approach to the affordable housing crisis.

The city remains focused on ensuring housing quality and resident safety by maintaining a Housing Issues Hotline (530-542-7417) and a robust inspection program of approximately 2,400 housing units.

Other housing initiatives coming soon include a new moderate-income homebuyer assistance program, creating a permanent local funding source for housing, and expanding resources for people experiencing homelessness. The city is also actively updating our General Plan’s Housing Element to ensure our housing program receives all available federal and state transportation, community service, and affordable housing funding sources. Perhaps most importantly, the city continues to be an active partner to improve access to safe and affordable housing for everyone in the community.

Devin Middlebrook is the mayor of South Lake Tahoe.

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