The Truckee Housing Crisis
Like many resort communities, Truckee faces a housing crisis for its local workforce. Rapidly rising housing costs have outpaced incomes for locals who work essential jobs. Our teachers, firefighters, ski patrollers, sanitation workers, and hair stylists find it increasingly difficult to find a place to rent, much less buy.
More than half the homes in the Truckee area are owned by people whose primary residence is elsewhere, and those second homeowners often choose to rent to short-term visitors rather than long-term locals, if they rent at all.
The median home price in Truckee is upwards of $600,000 – well out of reach for your average bookseller or bartender. Out of town home buyers drive housing prices up, incentivizing developers to build for the luxury market rather than the local worker.
Consequently, it can be very difficult for local employees to find a local residence. As one headline puts it, we’re “surrounded by empty homes, but can’t find a place to live.” This places great strain on individuals and families, and it also impacts the companies, non-profits, and government agencies that provide critical services to our community.
At Truckee River Cohousing, we are committed to being a part of the solution.
Our Commitment to Local Workforce Housing
With its emphasis on building mutually supportive relationships and a tightly-knit community, Truckee River Cohousing is a home built specifically for North Tahoe locals. To join us, you must be (or become) a full-time Truckee resident, live in your home more than half the year, and use your cohousing address as your primary residence on your annual tax return.
To support our local workforce, approximately one-third of our units will be offered at what is known as “achievable” prices, while the remaining two-thirds will be market-rate homes. Early on, we explored offering “affordable” homes at even lower prices, but we were disappointed to find that was an impossible bar to meet given the premium price on our very special piece of land.
We are also exploring various alternatives to multi-bedroom homes, including one-bedroom flats, attached in-law apartments, and tiny homes. These options diversify the housing stock in Truckee and make more room for nontraditional family configurations and single people who don’t need or want a multi-bedroom home. They may also make some of the units more affordable.
What is “Achievable Housing” and Who Qualifies for it?
Similar to the more well-recognized affordable housing, achievable housing is a way to expand the housing market to meet the needs of underserved populations. While affordable housing focuses on the very low end of the income range and often qualifies for government subsidies, achievable housing options focus on the “missing middle” – those that are neither dangerously poor nor wildly wealthy. Because there are very few formal programs to support the missing middle, this group often has the most difficult time finding a home to purchase in Truckee.
To qualify for achievable housing, you must meet certain requirements. Our achievable housing benefit is open to local residents who do not already own a home and who do not have significant liquid assets beyond what is needed for the down payment.
For our project, your income must fall below 170% of Area Median Income, or AMI. AMI varies by county and household size. For Nevada County in 2017, those numbers were:
Nevada County AMI (2017)
|Household Size||170% AMI|
For example, a family of 4 would need to earn less than $124,950 in order to qualify.
As a rule of thumb, the Mountain Housing Council tells us that an achievable home price is approximately 3.79 times your annual income. So for that family of four earning $124,500 a likely target home price would be around $473,500.
Buyers whose income is at or below 180% of AMI may also be eligible for down payment assistance from the Martis Fund.
Who Funds Achievable Housing?
Truckee River Cohousing seeks funding from local businesses, agencies, and philanthropic partners who wish to sponsor achievable housing units in order to support the local workforce.
If you know of a local organization that might be interested in joining us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to make a connection.
The Tahoe Daily Tribune recently published a series on the local housing crisis. Here are Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
Here is Outside magazine’s take on the housing crisis in mountain towns across the country.