Kate Gazunis, NRHA director of community and economic development, was among those attending.
“These high-ranking officials are aware of Nevada’s housing foreclosure crisis, the unemployment problem and the lack of access to mortgage products in our state,” she said, adding, “The purpose of the forum was not just to tell us they are working to solve those problems but to engage with us in one-on-one discussions about what our needs are in Nevada and what is working in our communities.”
The NRHA provides housing and rental assistance to residents in Nevada’s rural communities.
“HUD began its voucher rental assistance program in 1976 and it has not kept up with significant population changes in the rural areas of Nevada,” Gazunis said. “We were able to propose a budget-neutral solution for them to consider. We estimate the NRHA could provide rental assistance to 7,000 more families in rural Nevada if HUD would simply allow for the transfer of unused vouchers from other public housing agencies across the U.S. and allow high-performing agencies, such as the NRHA, to use them.”
Gary Longaker, NRHA executive director, said, “The economic impact of this proposed change would be significant. Vouchers prevent homelessness and overcrowding. They keep families together and free up income for other needs. This would enable recipients to spend three-fifths of their income on goods and services in the local economy, creating a ripple effect of economic stimulation. We estimate it will generate $45 to $50 million in economic activity annually.”
Another proposed change is a request for the federal government to redefine “rural.” Currently, it is defined as a community with a population of 20,000 or less.
NRHA also told federal officials there is a need to reinstate language in a critical piece of legislation, HB-1, 3350, in order to ensure many of Nevada’s underserved communities remain designated as “rural” in order to qualify for USDA RD 533 Loan Guarantees. This federal program makes it easier for working, qualified residents to buy a home.
Nevada leaders expressed concern about Nevada’s foreclosure crisis, however no simple solutions were presented. The NRHA is currently working to develop a new program to provide housing assistance to middle- and lower-income families who have been adversely impacted by the housing crisis. In March, the NRHA launched its Home at Last Advantage program, which provides down payment assistance to qualified home buyers through an innovative approach that works with participating lenders.
For more information, visit www.nvrural.org.