As an environmental engineer, I talk a lot about natural resource issues. I am passionate about many other issues as well. For instance, if elected, affordable housing is an issue I would focus on. The first idea that I would explore is creating a kind of Affordable Housing Infrastructure Bank that would pay incentives for building housing that working families can afford and would be funded by a tax or (impact) fee on luxury home construction.
How could this work?
The first issue to tackle is funding. At a baseline, the idea is some kind of tax or impact fee on the construction of luxury homes that are above what a working family, median income, or middle class family can afford. It may be that a sliding scale makes the most sense, where the higher your sale price or the home’s assessed value, the more that is imposed. Impact fees are not allowed in Washoe County under Nevada State Law (NRS 278B), but that is absolutely something that the legislature can change, and therefore perhaps an appropriate place for a Nevada State Assembly Member to address more of a local issue. Almost certainly this infrastructure bank would have to be either by county or region. The next issue of course is how much should be imposed, whether tax or impact fee, and when. This is something we would want and have to look at very carefully, with a broad spectrum of stakeholders and experts. It is also tied to the next issue—how much is needed?
How do the incentives work?
Depending on how much revenue is coming in, and other factors, my general thought is that incentives would need to be based on a sliding scale, as well. More incentive for building less expensive units, less incentive (but likely still incentives) for building something that families bringing in one and one half times the area median income can afford.
Additional factors to take into consideration could be infill versus sprawl, fixing up and re-selling or renting older homes or apartment buildings. Allowing for local governments to take a bigger role in rent control and/or approving and denying different types of developments based on affordable housing factors are also other resources that need to be looked into seriously.
However, this idea for incentivizing the building of homes that are affordable to working families could address one of the key issues driving up rents and prices: the lack of this type of product on the market.
I welcome your input and ideas as well — this is an idea for exploration and discussion, not a fully formed or final “plan.” This is a big issue, and will take input and buy-in from across the community for any solution to become reality.
Have any ideas about this? Join the discussion on my Facebook post.