By SARA SCHRICHTE  |  Soda Springs

Occasionally, I meet one of those rare Truckee/Tahoe born-and-bred locals and I marvel at their ability to raise a family here and stick it out for the long haul. The rest of us have stories of how we got to live or work in this place. A lot of those revolve around housing.

Too often, our stories are of being unable to find what we need at a price we can afford. From the seasonal lift operator to the full-time family, we universally understand that it takes financial gymnastics to have a life here. We willingly trade access to services and jobs for nature and small-town life. We largely accept the high costs of living, balancing multiple jobs and trying to ride out the next shoulder season. To do so is practically part of our local identity. Regional economic data from the Tahoe Prosperity Center and the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee, among others, point to moderate incomes combined with high cost of living and a large second home market creating these economic uncertainties.

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Our regional leaders recognize the struggle to accommodate the seasonal influx of workers and to keep enough housing inventory available for full-time use. It’s not a problem unique to the Tahoe area, and it won’t be solved with a single solution. We will need a variety of programs and projects acting in concert across the region to ensure that the region is a place for people to live, work, and play in all seasons. Placer and Nevada counties, along with the Town of Truckee and the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF), are taking the opportunity to look more closely at solutions that can address the specific needs of our region by conducting the first study that will create a regional baseline of all Truckee/North Tahoe housing needs.  

The study began by bringing together a group of stakeholders to design and guide the effort, led by TTCF. These stakeholders had all worked on various housing efforts, and recognize the need to leverage what’s already been done to make this a regional conversation. They also identified the importance of leveraging the work of community partners who deal with housing issues daily, from the Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe, Mountain Area Preservation, and Martis Fund, to Project MANA and our family resource centers.

The study is in two parts. BAE Urban Economics is conducting a comprehensive Needs Assessment Study, while TTCF and the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee are teaming up with outreach partners, including the Family Resource Center of Truckee, North Tahoe Family Resource Center, Elevate Tahoe, and Tahoe Truckee Community Television.

Preliminary findings from the study tell us we’re right to be concerned about affordability and how many homes sit vacant much of the year. So, I am not surprised that this winter is again marked by stories of seasonal workers desperately looking for housing. Multiple families will continue to live together in overcrowded homes. Many of us will make do with sub-standard conditions that accompany an aging housing inventory. The cold weather emergency shelter in Truckee will continue to shelter our most vulnerable residents on the most frigid nights. Our community’s basic needs support system will continue to work daily with people experiencing housing crises.

But this season we will come together to talk about these problems and design solutions that will make an impact. All voices are important, so whether you came here in search of the Tahoe lifestyle, or you’re a proud longtime local, please find out more online and add your voice to this conversation. For more information about surveys, forum dates, and the study, visit ttcf.net/impact/regional-housing-study. For Moonshine’s first installment of Housing Crisis, a series on the region’s current housing situation, see here.

~ Sara Schrichte lives in Soda Springs and is the project manager for the Truckee North Tahoe Housing Study.

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