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Inside the Story: Solving the housing crunch in Reno-Sparks

Reno Skyline at Sunrise, northern Nevada (Sinclair Broadcast Group)

It’s no secret, Reno has grown up.

Our city has pulled itself up to the big boy table and attracted big business and big names.

Tesla, Google and Switch to name a few. But just as quickly as word spreads about the benefits of moving here, the supply of affordable housing is drying up.

“We're going to have new employees hiring thousands and thousands of employees over the next three to five, six years and they have to live somewhere,” says Community Foundation of Western Nevada Chairman Jim Pfrommer.

The average vacancy rate for apartments in our area is hovering around 2 percent, and because of that rent prices in Reno have soared 9 percent in the past year.

It's a simple case of supply and demand, and a stark contrast from not too long ago when Reno's economy was in the tank.

“Since July of 2015 we've seen 20,000 jobs added to this community. We should have added 13,000 housing units at that time -- we created 4,000,” says Chris Askin, Community Foundation of Western Nevada President and CEO.

The organization is working with anyone and everyone interested in bringing not only more affordable housing here, but working housing. That’s a term used for people who have decent jobs, but still can't afford a decent place to live.

Askin explains, “Right now, to rent a one-bedroom in town using 30 percent of your income you need to make $46,000 a year. A $15 an hour person making $30,000, that's not going to do it.”

Developers are coming, but not enough.

So what can be done to alleviate the short supply?

The community foundation is working with local leaders on a myriad of solutions, including tax credits and incentives for developers and philanthropic investing.

Those involved in the cause say if something isn't done quickly, all of that momentum northern Nevada has gained could come to a screeching halt.

“Whether it's low income, moderate or higher income housing, we won't be able to satisfy what the employers want which is happy employees,” says Pfrommer.

Hardest hit, the Millennial generation. New college grads with the abilities to start a career here but the inability to find a place to live.

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