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As Tahoe delves into a rabid housing crisis, the real question is: What solutions can we tap into to solve this issue? There are myriad options being explored by the community at large. The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, which is spearheading a regional housing needs assessment, just wrapped up a series of housing forums aimed at tackling solutions to this multi-pronged topic.
“What strikes me is there is no single solution,” said Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook. “We have to pursue them all.”
Indeed, there are several options to explore in solving the #TahoeHousingCrisis, including regulatory approaches, tapping into local and regional agencies, a plethora of funding strategies, alternative housing, and even how we as a community look at this issue. While the solutions may not be clear, it is imperative that we get creative to harbor viable, alternative solutions to tackle the housing behemoth. Sustainable solutions will require passionate and involved community members willing to try anything.
“The success of this issue is going to hinge on the community commitment to solving this issue,” said Aaron Nousaine, senior associate for BAE Urban Economics, which is working on the Truckee North Tahoe Regional Housing Study. “We need to build support around solutions.”
Sara Schrichte, project manager for the Truckee North Tahoe Regional Housing Study, echoed those sentiments, pointing to the difficulty of this discussion. With two counties, an incorporated town, several unincorporated areas, and 17 special districts all within the region trying to tackle this one issue, it is imperative everyone is on the same page.
“This is the hardest part for us,” Schrichte said of coming up with solutions. “We are a neutral conveyor. Along the way we have learned a lot, but we are not the experts. It is difficult and awkward to speak on behalf of the jurisdictions. We are a bit outside our comfort zone.”
Moonshine Ink has taken these conversations to outline possible solutions to this issue. However, these are not the only potential outcomes. While the solutions may not be clear, it is certain that it will take multiple pieces to solve this housing puzzle.
It really is the culture of a community that drives changes in affordable housing. Communities need to be willing to be flexible to change what is already in place and get behind new policies. Aspen has some of the most onerous development standards — including housing mitigation for new construction and deed restricted units — but the community has backed the regulations and is committed to fixing its own housing crisis, according to Aaron Nousaine, senior associate for BAE Urban Economics.
“It is about a commitment to what you are willing to do to make sure people have accessible and affordable housing,” Nousaine said.
To fix a complicated situation like housing takes fierce support from the community, and perhaps Tahoe/Truckee can take a page from Aspen’s own housing crisis. In the early 1980s, Aspen’s two housing authorities combined to form the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority, with the goal of better coordinating affordable and workforce housing policies. What emerged was a successful housing authority and, from 2008 to 2012, Aspen’s average annual tax revenue for its housing program was $7 million. Although Aspen has some of the most expensive real estate in the nation, it also boasts having among the highest rates of homes that are occupied by local residents year-round, according to Aspen Journalism.
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