A friend put a room in her house on Airbnb for the first time this winter. It’s been a successful enterprise, with a steady stream of visitors from around the state and even internationally. However, her heart about broke when an employee of a local resort wrote a message pleading her to make the room a long-term rental, as he simply couldn’t find lodging anywhere else.

This story underscores a tremendous issue for our community — the need for workforce housing. Rental inventory is tighter than it’s ever been. Bouncing back from the Great Recession, housing prices in North Lake Tahoe/Truckee are increasing back toward pre-recession levels, yet median household incomes have actually decreased when adjusted for inflation. Tahoe Prosperity Center recently reported that housing affordability in the Tahoe Basin was more challenged than that of San Francisco.

There are some affordable housing units in North Lake Tahoe/Truckee but each maintains a long waiting list — hopeful tenants can expect to wait at least one year, if not two or more. High-paying jobs are hard to come by, while employers struggle with employee retention as young workers realize it’s tough to make ends meet here. Roads to Reno are veritable salmon runs in the morning and evening commute hours.

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All of these factors make it tough to make a living. The result is one I’ve seen many times over the years of living here — people leave.

Our community is running the risk of becoming a place where people work and recreate, but don’t live. This is a dangerous outcome on many levels. Without a local community, efforts to preserve and protect the landscape and resources suffer, service levels decline, local businesses struggle to keep their doors open, and the community character hollows.

The statistics outlining this issue could unwind as far as the eye can see. This month, however, Moonshine Ink is choosing to put a face to the numbers and sharing the housing tales that demonstrate the severity of the region’s housing crisis, here. With this, we launch our Housing Crisis series, to help illuminate the many faces of this crucial community matter. The sincere hope is that together as a community we will develop solutions. Our home depends on it.

Author

  • Mayumi Peacock

    Hailing from a U.S. military family and a graduate of the University of Florida, Mayumi Peacock has lived in several corners of the country and globe, yet Tahoe/Truckee has been her home since 1999. She is founder and publisher of Moonshine Ink, the region’s award-winning independent newspaper, which continues to be created by, for, and of the community. Other passions include family, animals, books, healthy living, and humane food.

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