“Mesquite needs about 467 units of affordable housing right now,” said William Brewer, the Deputy Director of Nevada Rural Housing Authority.
Brewer and Jack White, a consultant for the NRHA, presented the findings from Vogt Strategic Insights to about 30 people at City Hall on Dec. 15.
The study was centered on the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of “affordable” housing and how much of that is in Northeast Clark County, for all of the Virgin and Moapa Valleys.
HUD’s definition is an amount that is “30 percent of the household income for gross housing costs, including utilities,” according to the report. Essentially, that would mean that a household that earns $5,000 per month should plan on paying no more than $1,500 a month for rent/mortgage plus utilities. Families who pay more than that are considered “overburdened from a cost perspective.”
The report concluded that there are 331 households paying 30-35 percent of their income to rent while another 1,060 are paying over 35 percent of their income to rent. The number is similar with homeowners who are paying mortgages, with 275 paying between 30 and 35 percent of income and another 1,020 paying above 35 percent. In Mesquite, the average household income is $4,000.
With those calculations, many of the households in the area are struggling to make ends meet between rent and high utility costs and the day to day necessities, thus causing the local family services departments, such as the food banks and welfare, to see an increase of families needing help.
The problem, however, isn’t as simple as building more housing that is set for lower income households. Brewer and White both agreed that while there are resources available to developers to build such housing, breaking even on any development can be a struggle. This is why there are fewer developers in the area than in the booming years of 2006-08.
But strong community members were present at the meeting, seeking a way to help the residents and area as a whole jump over this hurdle.
Eureka COO Andre Carrier met with Brewer and White after their talk Thursday, trying to find a helpful answer to the ultimate question: What can we do to get it done? “It’s a tough nut to crack,” Brewer told Carrier and the audience several times.
George Gault, former CEO of Mesquite Regional Business, has been talking with the two representatives for the past year, trying to find a way to solve the problem. Now that there are some solid numbers in front of them, and a community that appears to be willing to help, perhaps the problem can be handled sooner rather than later.
As for the report itself, it can be found in its entirety at www.mrbnv.org, near the bottom of the page. Brewer stated that the reports will be updated each November/December as needed and that the impact of any improvements to affordable housing in the area will be visible as it is created.