I’m one of the lucky ones. Although I’ve moved five times in over two years since joining the Moonshine family and relocating to the Tahoe/Truckee region, I’ve been blessed with opportunities.
It’s exhausting. During three lengthy housing hunts, I’ve danced around the worldwide web, kept cautiously hopeful tabs open all the time, and sent follow-up after follow-up email. Each time: Deep breath. Here we go again. Is this … the one?
Cue to graciously thanking representatives for waaaay-too-expensive or you-don’t-have-the-credit-for-that or no-sorry-I-can’t-live-in-a-one-bedroom-cottage-with-three-housemates let downs. The packing of husky and homely possessions into a car that’s groaning under the weight. The constant ebb and flow of free furniture into and out of my life. All told, I’d estimate I’ve spent nearly half my time in the region thus far in a moderate to extreme housing panic.
Yet for those familiar with our housing crisis — accelerated and exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and its wave of new residents and opportunities served up with a heaping side of culture clash and growth — it is clear that my story is not singular.
According to data released in June by the Mountain Housing Council, “more than 200 affordable units [are] under construction and expected to open this summer and fall in our region,” yet the organization’s analysis (which is part of an update to the Workforce Housing Needs Assessment released in 2016) suggests that the region’s current total unmet housing need is roughly 9,500 units, a 1,000-plus increase in need since the 2016 report.
This month, we present a “memorial wall” for displaced local residents honoring those who had to leave the area because they simply couldn’t find housing. Also, we highlight people who are taking the prerogative to combat the issue themselves.
During my personal journey with housing anxiety, I settled. Before finding the Kings Beach artist haven I moved into this June (my gratitude for being there is through the roof), my landing spots have included:
1) Crashing at my dad’s and his partner’s home when I first arrived in what was supposed to be a short stay but turned into almost half a year
2) A tiny home shared with one other human and two dogs in which my bedroom was what I called “The Cave,” a loft designed for kids or pets or occasional lounging with knee-standing room only
3) A spacious-yet-dilapidated Glenshire abode found on Craigslist and shared with six strangers before I had a car, complete with a cool five-mile Legacy Trail bike or skate commute
4) Finding myself houseless at the start of a pandemic and holing up in my mom’s timeshare on Donner Pass during the period that second homeowners weren’t visiting their homes
Note the pattern here? My family’s support is astronomical, and without having them in the area to fall back on in between unexpected housing downfalls I’d never have been able to stay in this region this whole time.
My experience has been an opportunity to check my own privilege, but secure, affordable housing is a basic need and should be a right. We shouldn’t settle for these unsettling stories.