TRUCKEE, Calif. – As the Tahoe Truckee region enters into what is often referred to as “shoulder season,” many employers have remarked that the summer of 2021 was the most difficult housing season the community has ever experienced. Many long-time community members were forced out of their homes and priced out of the housing market altogether, leaving local businesses to adapt and reduce operations.
As a result, leaders of the Mountain Housing Council (MHC), a program of the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, adopted an “Emergency Proclamation Regarding Housing,” noting that the current housing crisis is threatening the livelihood and character of the region, its community members, and its businesses. Many hope that using their collective voice to draw attention to the crisis will help to inspire accelerated, creative solutions – and quickly.
“We were experiencing a housing crisis before the ‘Zoom Boom,’ and circumstances have only gotten worse due to an influx of remote workers,” said Tara Zuardo, Program Director of MHC. “The Council has been working diligently to identify creative solutions that will have the most immediate impact, and we hope that this emergency proclamation will further regional, State, and Federal collaboration.”
The housing crisis is already creating notable impacts on the economy, from businesses closing for multiple days each week, to members of the community’s workforce having to leave the town and area entirely. The proclamation aims to draw attention to this issue for community members, visitors, second homeowners, and state and federal elected officials. With it, the partnership is committed to supporting short-term actions, while also continuing to focus on long-term solutions.
A recently updated housing needs assessment, part of a larger Regional Housing Implementation Plan, revealed that the region’s total unmet housing need is at approximately 9,500 units. This increase over the last year is due, in part, to the real estate boom: According to the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors, the median price in North Shore is now $1,125,000 (a 129% increase from before the pandemic), and in Truckee, $1,082,500 (a 44% increase from before the pandemic). Landlords are now selling homes that many locals were renting, and many open job positions cannot be filled because people cannot find a place to live. More than 3,500 in-commuters would rather live in the area – if they could only find a place to live. This creates challenges for employers who are looking for long-term stability in an employee base. There are also close to 4,700 resident workers already here and inadequately housed–i.e. living in poor, overcrowded, or otherwise inadequate conditions. Seasonal workers, an important employee segment for our high-tourism seasons, are also having a difficult time finding a place to live, with some even sleeping in their cars.
Business owners and employers in the area remain significantly challenged in maintaining their businesses without having adequate housing in place for their workforce. As a result, they are looking for creative ideas and quick solutions to avoid additional closures. As a result, MHC Partners are working tirelessly to accelerate solutions, including implementing deed-restricted housing programs, placing moratoriums on new short-term rental permits, exploring joint-ownership housing ventures, and growing community-based funding. Over the last four years, they have applied consistent focus, accountability, and resources towards the problem.
These efforts have paid off in a number of ways: Partners recently celebrated the unveiling of 288 new affordable, local workforce housing units within five new developments, and Senate Bills 9 and 10, which MHC’s State Policy working group previously advocated for, were recently signed into law by Governor Newsom. Both promise to increase affordable housing and streamline development throughout Tahoe.
Still, in spite of this recent progress, additional support is needed from all stakeholders in order to protect our regional community and economy.
ABOUT THE MOUNTAIN HOUSING COUNCIL
The Mountain Housing Council of Tahoe Truckee (MHC) is a program of the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, and brings together 29 diverse partners to accelerate solutions to achievable local housing. The MHC’s goal is to build on the needs identified in the original 2016 Truckee North Tahoe Regional Workforce Housing Needs Assessment (as updated in 2021), and tackle the unique and pressing challenges of housing in the North Tahoe-Truckee region, including availability, variety, and affordability.