Affordable Housing Shortage Bad For Business In Truckee

Nov 15, 2016

Local business owners are feeling the pinch of a housing shortage in Tahoe. Our Tahoe reporter Amy Westervelt has that story.

Startup founder and Tahoe Vista resident Tim Olesnavage seems like the ideal tenant.

“No dog, single guy, I don’t care how many bedrooms. I honestly don’t care how much rent is.”

But yet…

“In the last 12 months, I’ve moved five times.”

That’s a problem for Olesnavage, and not just for the obvious reasons. His business, Elevate Blue, is a tech incubator, and its success relies on the ability of Olesnavage and his co-founder to attract other startups to the area.

“You think, ‘Oh, you’re starting a tech company in the woods on the lake. No way.’ We can find talent, we can find anything. The housing is our number one issue and it has been since we opened up.”

And it’s not just a problem for startups. It’s an issue for more traditional businesses too, especially Tahoe’s many restaurants.

“Let’s talk about the dishwashers. No one in town can find a dishwasher.”

That’s Marlena John, co-owner of Old Town Tap in Truckee.

“It’s so hard for people to find affordable housing here, and those are the people who make this place thrive. It’s so hard to keep a steady staff in a restaurant, and I’m sure in other businesses, too.”

There are various conversations happening around solutions to housing issues in the region. In the meantime, these employers are taking matters into their own hands.

Olesnavage says he’s looking at subsidized housing for Elevate Blue employees, and in Truckee, John says she’s looking for ways to pay kitchen staff higher wages.