Housing a “hot topic” everywhere – except the Nevada campaign trail

market failurePerhaps the most tangible affordable housing proposal in Nevada right now involves transferable tax credits for housing developers. The developers sell the credits to purchasers who might pay 80 or 90 cents on the dollar. The buyers can then pay the state taxes with credits, instead of money.

The credits proposal surfaced during a Nevada legislative study committee that is preparing bills for lawmakers to consider when they meet in Carson City early next year. Transferable tax credits have come under fire, including here in Nevada, where Tesla has been granted, and has sold, tens of millions of dollars worth of the credits, blowing a hole in the state budget in the process.

The credits proposal looks even more suspect when stacked against the many alternative housing proposals that are emerging across the country and in Washington D.C.

This week the Washington Post inventoried several of those proposals, including ones being proposed by Democrats in Congress. They range from tax credits for renters to substantial increases in funding for public housing.

“Nationwide, average rents in May were within a few dollars of their all-time highs,” the Post reported, quoting data from Zillow, “with Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Atlanta seeing their highest-ever prices.”

“Housing has become a very hot topic for the first time in recent history,” David Garcia, policy director for the Terner Center, told the Post.

“Housing is a new frame and issue that says you understand the economics of a new generation,” added Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.

Be that as it may, and despite a well-documented need for affordable housing in Nevada, the issue has been all but ignored by politicians campaigning for major public office in Nevada, with few if any candidates presenting much in the way of housing policy plans.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.

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