Poor and disabled? Good luck finding a home | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Poor and disabled? Good luck finding a home

South Lake Tahoe is no place for the low-income disabled person – at least not the way the housing situation looks today.

In fact, a disabled person might stand a better chance in a larger city where low-income housing needs could be adequately met in a facility geared toward individual physical, mental or emotional impairments. But of course, rent in larger cities is steep and waiting lists are long.

In a nutshell, unless family or friends can offer shelter, a severely disabled resident in this town has no recourse for adequate housing.

But the city housing department is hoping to change that soon by building South Shore’s first housing complex for the disabled.

“This community has ignored the needs of the disabled for a long, long time,” said Councilman Tom Davis Tuesday. “I think it’s only appropriate that if we have the money available, we make the commitment to make this happen.”

An initial study, compiled by the Tahoe Area Coordinating Council for the Disabled and presented to the City Council Tuesday by the Housing and Urban Development department, clearly outlines the state of affairs.

“… There has been no housing developed for persons with disabilities in the South Lake Tahoe area, just as there was no subsidized senior housing before Tahoe Senior Plaza was developed. Nor are there any licensed board and care facilities for persons with disabilities.”

The same team that collaborated on the Tahoe Senior Plaza – the city housing department, American Baptist Homes of the West and the Council for the Disabled – is now moving through the initial planning stages for the project. To finance the 15- to 20-unit project, the city would have to apply for a State HOME Program grant in the fall of this year, requesting about $750,000. This application would require a 25 percent local match from low- and moderate-income housing funds. Then in the spring, American Baptist and the Council for the Disabled would apply for a Housing and Urban Development 811 grant in the amount of $1.2 million.

“(Tahoe Area Coordinating Council for the Disabled) is certainly the agency driving this. They’ve been behind this from the beginning,” said Patrick Conway, city housing coordinator. “The project is in the very early stages of development, so if there are any issues, if anyone in the community has concerns, now is the time to express those.”

After demolishing Blue Lake Motel, the Jackpot Inn and Serra Lodge, housing mostly occupied by low- or moderate-income residents on a permanent basis, the city redevelopment agency had to take on the responsibility for replacing those units. The new Tahoe Senior Plaza and the rehabilitation of the Tahoe Valley Townhomes replaced 115 units, this project would replace 15 to 20 units, depending on funding.

“There is low-income housing in Tahoe but it does not necessarily focus on the disabled population,” said Gary Davidson, a program coordinator for case management services at El Dorado Mental Health. “At any time, we have 20 people looking for decent low-income housing. We have a population living in some pretty bad places.”

The proposed Park Avenue project is expected to add about 70 low-income units, but with the ever-growing needs of an ever-growing and aging population, that might only be the beginning.

What: Public forum on city housing project for the disabled

When: June 28, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Where: City Council Ch

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