Throughout the Regional Housing Study, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) and our partners often encountered the sentiment that a study is just a study. It is true, too many studies fail to end in strategy and change, yet, no true change has been implemented without the guidance of a study.
The study’s importance lies in putting our attention and resources on the right solutions in order to contribute to the culture of our community, and attract and retain workers for economic growth and stability.
The economic uncertainties and housing issues affecting communities across the country exist here, too, perhaps amplified by our geographic location and seasonal economy.
Our community isn’t the only one that welcomes visitors while taking care of its own people. We accept the challenge of balancing a strong tourist-based economy with the residents’ needs. This study sought to learn from our own citizens as well as similar sister communities.
The Regional Housing Study encapsulated two parts: a needs assessment performed by Bay Area Urban Economics, and a community outreach portion to understand the realities of our residents and stakeholders.
Our community was eager to “lean in” and share their stories. More than 1600 employees and 400 employers responded to workforce surveys. Three different focus groups discussed regulatory policy, workforce needs, and public programs. Five public forums featured twenty stories of local citizens, business leaders, and policy makers. Break-out sessions heard community members’ insights and ideas of how to approach this complex issue. Several of these voices have been captured in videos that can be seen on our own site or on our Vimeo page.
We discovered that with just 33,300 housing units, half of our survey respondents spend more than half of their income on housing. While our median household income is $67,000, the median home price is over $500,000. Available jobs in May compared to December drops by nearly 3,000 opportunities.
With the reveal of the study’s final presentation this month, what happens now?
Our community is poised to put real solutions into place. Knowing this, the TTCF Board of Directors has committed to developing a strategy along with our regional partners to further our collective goal of creating more housing for local residents. Together with our community, we can focus on a spectrum of solutions that target the complex nuances of our housing needs.
TTCF launched the Housing Solutions Fund to attract essential funding from donors, foundations, and public funds as our first step to implement real community solutions.
To put solutions in place will require the overwhelming support and commitment that our community members, leaders, and stakeholders have demonstrated throughout the study. We will need to continue coming together with tolerance, compassion, and creative problem solving as we work towards our common goal: a healthy, vibrant community.
This article first appeared in the July 7, 2016 Give Back Tahoe page in Sierra Sun.