In Washoe County, northern Nevada, the community is grappling with an affordable housing shortage that has led to rising housing costs and increased financial burdens for residents, especially low-income and historically marginalized communities. The region has become one of the least affordable areas in the United States, forcing residents to either move to more affordable locations or sacrifice essential needs to afford housing. This situation impacts the well-being and quality of life of citizens and hampers the county’s workforce and economic development potential. Additionally, it contributes to longer commute times and increased greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating the negative effects of climate change.
To address this issue, Washoe County has partnered with FUSE to enlist the help of Executive Fellow Shane Kockenmeister who will work towards increasing affordable housing availability and affordability. Kockenmeister will engage in extensive research, conduct a listening tour with relevant stakeholders, and study successful policy designs implemented in similar initiatives nationwide. With this knowledge, Kockenmeister will draft modified policy language for the Washoe County Development Code and other pertinent policies and procedures to incentivize and expedite affordable housing development. Kockenmeister’s work aims to increase the inventory of affordable housing, retain housing in vulnerable neighborhoods, maximize local economic impacts, and build a foundation for a sustainable, equitable, and resilient Washoe County that addresses climate change.