State starts reviewing applications for half-billion dollar affordable housing initiative

By: - April 28, 2022 5:22 am

Gov. Steve Sisolak announcing the “Home Means Nevada” housing initiative last month. (Photo: Governor’s office via social media).

The state has received 21 applications so far for funding from a recently established state program that will ultimately invest $500 million in affordable housing, the Nevada Housing Division said Wednesday. 

Meeting with the Nevada Housing Coalition, which consists of non-profit organizations, social service providers, businesses and banks, Housing Division officials said the proposals so far total roughly $55 million. 

Gov. Steve Sisolak, who spoke briefly at the virtual meeting, said the state is looking for more “shovel ready projects,” adding that while he was pleased with the submissions received so far that “we can do better than that.”

“With housing we can locate, support and provide services Nevadans need to be successful,” he said. “Housing is the foundation from which we can support food insecurity, employment and so many other necessities that people have.”

The state launched the “Homes Means Nevada” initiative April 14, which opened an application process for developers and organizations to submit proposals for housing projects, which would receive funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Steve Aichroth, the administrator of the Nevada Housing Division, described it as a “pre-application process,” which is open until May 15 and allows the state to vet projects to determine if they meet eligibility requirements. 

In addition to answering 15 questions, including history of federal funding and annual costs of the project, applicants are required to submit documents detailing potential conflict of interests. 

Proposals that meet all requirements will go through a final application process, which is still being developed. Projects could start receiving allocations sometime this summer. 

Nevada lacks more than 105,000 affordable housing units. For the state’s greatest deficit, extremely low-income renters earning less than 30% of area median income, the state is an estimated 84,000 units short. 

In February, Sisolak announced he intended to direct $500 million of ARPA funds to address the housing crisis:

  • $300 million for developing multifamily units;
  • $130 million to preserve existing affordable housing to prevent units from converting to market rates;
  • $30 million to increase homeownership;
  • $40 million for land acquisition.

Lawmakers approved the spending of the first half of that money during an Interim Finance Committee hearing April 7. 

Michael Holliday, the chief financial officer for the Nevada Housing Division, said nine of the funding applications were for projects in Clark County, eight were in Washoe County, two covered Clark County and rural Nevada, and two were statewide.

Applicants must identify the specific type of funding being sought, such as whether for development or land acquisition.  

Of the submissions, four were for new construction projects for multifamily housing units, one was for a homeownership program, six checked all four categories and nine included multiple categories. 

One didn’t offer a specific category of funding being sought. 

Proposals also have a chance to identify populations, such as those experiencing homelessness, living with a disability, or seniors, the projects are intended to serve. Wednesday’s presentation didn’t detail the populations identified in the current applications. 

At least 20% of the funds will go toward projects that build permanent supportive housing programs and serve populations who make less than 30% of area median income, Aichroth said. 

“We think this is the area of greatest need in the state,” he said. “We know that we have to provide more funding and more available apartments and more developments for those who are in the bottom rung of the economic ladder or have intellectual disabilities or things of that nature.” 

Guidance from the U.S. Treasury on ARPA funds requires funds to be obligated by December of 2024 and expended by December 2026. 

In addition to providing details on what populations the project serves, Aichroth said they are requiring proposals to provide details on if “your project is going to extend past 2024 and 2026 how it will be sustained.” 

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Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues.