New Workforce Housing Development Underway In Rural Nevada

Sep 27, 2017

A new residential development has officially broken ground in Dayton, which developers say will add much-needed housing to the small town northeast of Carson City.

But rather than sell the homes at market value, builders say the price will come with a significant discount.

Reno Public Radio’s Noah Glick reports on what this project means for the future of housing in rural Nevada.

It’s a cold and cloudy day in Dayton, and ominous skies overhead are showing signs of looming rain. But that didn’t stop the approximately two dozen developers, contractors and local leaders from breaking ground on the area’s newest affordable housing development: The Gold Canyon Estates.

The project is set to add 125 housing units to the area over the next three years, consisting of single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.

“This is a step, but a small step, but a first step for Lyon County. We already provide some programs here, but this is one, this development will help people buy homes,” says Gary Longaker, executive director of the Nevada Rural Housing Authority. His organization provides financial support to potential buyers through down payment assistance and mortgage reductions.

A rendering of the new single-family homes being constructed in Dayton. The homes will be made using structural insulated panels, or SIP, which are built offsite in a factory setting.
Credit Noah Glick

According to real estate website Zillow, the median home price in Dayton is more than $241,000. The market value of a new home at Gold Canyon Estates is estimated at $280,000. But the sales price? $209,000.

Tony Ramirez is the Reno director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He says while this project is beneficial to home buyers, the overall housing situation remains challenging for developers.

“It’s very difficult in Nevada right now, just because the cost of everything is going up: the cost of labor, materials, land,” he says. “Marry that with the cost of development to actually come up with an affordable product that can meet that workforce definition for a household that’s earning the median income.”

One of the ways this project is cutting these development costs is by building with structural insulated panels, or SIP. That means homes are constructed offsite with panels made from insulated foam core and essentially plywood, rather than being built on-site with two-by-fours and fiberglass insulation.

Residential Architect magazine says the SIP method takes less time to build and provides more energy efficiency. But, industry adoption is slow, and there are questions about the panels’ long-term durability.

David Adame is the President and CEO of Chicanos Por La Causa, one of the nation’s largest Hispanic nonprofits, and the developer behind this project.

“At the end of the day, it’s about a house that looks like any other house. And by saving the money, you’re providing the opportunity for people to be able to afford to buy these houses,” he says.

Eddie Hult is the Nevada development director for the organization. He says several factors helped the project get off the ground, including low costs for land and labor. And he says they’re not looking to turn a huge profit.

“Most builders take 10-18 percent on the houses as an overhead profit coverage. We take about 3-5 percent.”

Workers use bulldozers to flatten land to be used for the new workforce housing development.
Credit Noah Glick

Hult says for more affordable housing developments to take place, especially in rural Nevada, builders need to be willing to take a little less, more lenders need to get involved and prices for water rights, permit fees and other entitlements need to go down.

But overall, he says he’s excited about this project, because it gives people options in an area that’s becoming increasingly more expensive.

“They should basically fit those people that make family incomes of about $30,000 to about $50,000 a year,” he says. “Those people right now, even in Dayton, can’t afford a single-family home.”

Hult says he expects the first family to move into Gold Canyon Estates as early as January.