Affordable Housing A Main Topic At Tahoe Economic Summit

Oct 31, 2017

More than 150 people met in Incline Village Monday to discuss the economic challenges facing the Tahoe Basin.

As Reno Public Radio’s Noah Glick reports, much of the attention was on housing.

Business leaders, policy analysts and government officials gathered to discuss how the sharing economy, from companies like Airbnb, is impacting the Tahoe economy.

Gino Borges was the keynote speaker of the event, and the director of impact at Truckee-based OpenPath Investments, a self-described social impact real estate company. He said the company acquires apartment complexes, then creates community spaces and collaborative projects, like gardens.

“When residents start to like where they live and feel connected to where they live, they tend to stay longer and take better care of the property," he said. "So as a result, it starts translating to better economics for investors as well, and obviously improved lives for the residents. So it’s a win-win situation for everybody.”

But no conversation about economic issues in Tahoe is complete without addressing affordable housing.

Jennifer Kermode is the executive director of the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority in Colorado. She says the area shares a lot of similarities with Tahoe, including rough terrain and a shortage of affordable housing options.

One way her agency addressed its own housing crisis was through a sales tax increase in 2006, which generated $13.7 million in nine years.

“The impact has been huge. We were able to leverage those dollars to put in more than 350 new homes. More than 300 local businesses were impacted by having employees have a stable place to live, so they can show up to work every day,” she said.

Kermode said they’ve also developed a program where the housing authority enters into one-year leases on properties that are typically short-term vacation rentals.

But with no housing authority of its own, local municipalities throughout the Tahoe Basin will need to work together to come up with strategic solutions.