Rental Affordability Not So Good in Las Vegas

Las Vegas signIf you live in Nevada and you are interested in renting a modest, two-bedroom apartment, then you had better be prepared to work 2.5 minimum wage jobs to afford it. This news comes from a new study of housing affordability by state. The Out of Reach 2010 report ranks Nevada as the second worst state in the West for lack of affordable rental housing, just behind California.

Executive Director of Nevada Legal Services AnnaMarie Johnson says that, especially in the Las Vegas area, thousands of families do not bring in $19 an hour or more. This amount is what the study says is needed to afford basic two-bedroom rental prices. According to Johnson, “Our economy still hasn’t recovered. We have people who are still unemployed and people who are underemployed, and their incomes are extremely low.”

Johnson says that the Obama administration has made $3 million in stimulus money available to Nevada that has helped some families make their rent. However, there are even more families that could be helped if the federal government broadened the definition of what it means to be at “immediate risk” of being homeless.

Section 8, a federal voucher program,has historically been the most helpful for low-income renters. Section 8 allows renters to find apartments on the open market and also subsidizes the rent. However, according to Johnson, there is a problem. Johnson says that not enough rental vouchers are being issued to keep up with the numbers of people affected by the economic downturn.

“It’s been three years since the Housing Authority has opened up the waiting list to new people for vouchers,” Johnson says. “There’s a huge need for subsidized rent here in southern Nevada.”

There are thousands of families in Clark County that are only able to afford low-budget motels that charge weekly rent, or worse, Johnson added. “If you’ve only got $200 or $300 of your income to pay rent with, you’re renting substandard housing or housing that really is uninhabitable – where there shouldn’t be people living in it.”

The National Low-Income Housing Coalition study finds that a family needs to make around $36,000 a year to afford a basic two-bedroom apartment in Carson City, Nevada or roughly $42,000 a year for the exact same thing in Las Vegas. This, added to rising gas prices, may be more than enough to put a lot of families in a high-risk situation.

Source: – NV Second Worst in West for Rental Affordability

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