New housing goals in Reno area not being met as housing crunch persists
"We are the fastest growing midsized community in the nation," said Mike Kazmierski, President of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN).
The Tesla effect has helped with that growth, bringing new jobs and companies to northern Nevada. But, there simply is not enough housing to keep up and it's raising some concerns.
"The tech companies are very concerned. This will affect our ability to be successful if we don't take this seriously and solve this problem," said Kazmierski.
Some of those tech companies are directing their employees who are relocating to the area to find housing in casinos and hotels, until a permanent place is available.
"If you go to Whitney Peak in the morning, you'll see a lot of those Tesla [and] Panasonic employees who are staying there more long-term," according to Kazmierski.
He adds some companies are also working out contracts to reserve blocks of rooms at hotels and casinos for their employees.
The region needs 6,000 new housing units per year to keep up with demand and get itself out of its current housing hole. That goal is not being met.
Since the recession, the most new housing construction the region has seen in a single year is nearly 3,600 units. This year could the best year at about 4,500.
The lack of housing could force some people to get creative when it comes to finding a place to live. In addition to staying in hotels, they could also take a more 'mobile' approach.
"You might see them [living] in campgrounds in their RVs. That's what happened in 2005 [and] 2006," said Brian Bonnenfant, who is with the Center for Regional Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. Bonnenfant has looked into the current housing crisis extensively.
Even when new development is proposed, there is often pushback from the community. Often, those who are living in the area don't want to see the new construction, citing concerns about traffic and how it would impact the area schools. Kazmierski is urging people to be open-minded. He says studies have shown trying to eliminate development, or relocate it to a different part of town only brings up the housing prices.
"The nimby attitude -- build it somewhere, do it somewhere else, get it away from me -- often drives the price of housing up pretty dramatically," said Kazmierski.