This is about partnership, not competition. We are better together.
~ Lewis Jordan, Executive Director, Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority
On May 8th, 2023, the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority (SNRHA) convened an impactful forum featuring essential voices in the affordable housing conversation: congressional representatives from Nevada and across the country; builders, bankers, and affordable housing developers (including Nevada HAND); the Nevada Housing Division; the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); the Nevada Housing Coalition (special thanks to Christine Hess); the Governor’s Office of Economic Development; Clark County and the Cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Henderson; the Bureau of Land Management; and current residents of affordable housing communities. Policymakers, practitioners, advocates, and residents came together to celebrate how much good work has been done and to make concrete plans for how to tackle the work that is still needed.
SNRHA Executive Director Lewis Jordan: A big goal with this forum was bringing people to the table who understand the affordable housing crisis in our community and who can help remove barriers: lawmakers who can create laws that support affordable housing at the local, state, federal level; affordable housing practitioners and providers; the building community at large; residents sharing their experience. We did not want to have just another luncheon, another conference or networking session – we wanted to focus on what we can do.
With the federal delegation, we have tremendous value in Congressman Steven Horsford as our representative, but to have leaders from other parts of the country, such as Congresswoman Maxine Waters, sharing similar concerns and to have HUD in the room listening and asking, ‘what can we do to help remove some of the barriers?’ — that was very powerful. We feel that we’ve developed a reputation as a state and as a Housing Authority to be able to say to local and federal government: if you give us resources, we will use them.
As a team at SNRHA, we are laser-focused on three things: customer service (internally and externally), creating more housing (we’re short over 84,000 units in Nevada), and creating opportunities for residents. We know that full community collaboration and partnerships are the only way to move the needle, and this forum was one of many gatherings we have planned to bring people together. On June 29th, we’re hosting a symposium for landlords where we will announce incentives and discuss efficiency strategies for the Housing Choice Vouchers program. And we’re talking with local sports teams about workforce needs and community benefits agreements to help create new opportunities for residents.
Attendee Jeneeah Girma of the Nevada Housing Division: What I found most impactful about the forum was the caliber of attendees and range of perspectives, from personal stories of residents to high-level strategic insights from affordable housing practitioners and congressional representatives. It was apparent how intentional the Housing Authority team was in selecting guests and panelists who are knowledgeable and committed to addressing affordable housing needs across the spectrum of their respective industries.
National and regional representatives from HUD gave remarks and offered their support for affordable housing throughout our state, and representatives from the Bureau of Land Management explained the importance of collaborating with local jurisdictions to acquire land for affordable housing, especially in Nevada, where 80% of the land is owned by the federal government.
The overall takeaway from this forum (for me) is that there are so many factors (funding, zoning, racial disparity in access, advocacy, construction, inflation, nimbyism, etc.) that go into affordable housing that it is key to break out of our silos to work together to address these concerns and get down to the business of housing everyone in Nevada, including our most vulnerable residents. Housing is a human right.
Panelist Audra Hamernik, President and CEO of Nevada HAND:
Lewis Jordan: While we led the planning – and I must recognize the outstanding work of SNRHA’s Lee Quick – there’s no way we could have done it without the support of community partners. When you look at the program, every listed speaker was also part of the planning team and had a part in realizing the vision.
I hope the ongoing connections after this forum will continue to drive home that we don’t want to just talk about it; we want to see more dollars, more partnerships, more Housing Choice Vouchers, and more affordable housing options for Southern Nevada. We need to remove barriers for new construction and rehabs, for landlords joining the voucher program, and for residents looking for opportunities. I hope other partners will join the effort as we come together to illuminate this issue and to support more affordable housing through preservation and production.