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Responsible Development: Championing Housing Affordability for Everyone

Responsible Development: Championing Housing Affordability for Everyone

Housing affordability is an issue that touches everyone. Through our Inclusionary Housing efforts, the West 2nd District is finding new, collaborative ways to address the impacts of both gentrification and scarcity.

Affordable Housing and Responsible Development

Responsible Development: Championing Housing Affordability for Everyone

When you look around the West 2nd District today, it’s easy to see why some would deem it just another ramshackle neighborhood worthy of little more than the wrecking ball’s relief. But we see it differently. We see a place that, despite its woeful realities, is home to many people. Fellow human beings, members of our community, each of them deserving of our respect and understanding. We see these people living their lives here every day, many seeking something better but are uncertain where to begin the journey. We see an opportunity to be of help.

As the developer of the West 2nd District, the Don J Clark Group is an organization rooted in the ideals of fairness, inclusiveness, dignity, and compassion. Thus we see housing affordability as a cornerstone concern of our work. For us, our ambition to revitalize this area of downtown Reno must be mirrored by a commitment to create opportunities for those being displaced as a result. And our expertise as urban place makers must be equaled, or exceeded, by our ability to spark and sustain positive change across socio-economic barriers.

The first signs of the District’s transformation will be the closure and removal of the weekly motels that currently define the neighborhood. While this process will prepare the District for its rebirth, giving us the ability to fulfill new, workforce housing needs, it will, at the same time, be contributing to a problem: the shortage of affordable housing alternatives for former West 2nd residents and others in their economic situation. Now, a responsible developer would see this need as both a responsibility and a challenge, would rally their community’s best and the brightest to address it, would leverage resources and relationships to forge an honest-to-goodness solution. And that’s precisely what we’re doing. By championing housing affordability, we’re putting our responsible-development credo into action, demonstrating the radical good that a developer can deliver when they’re willing to lead with their heart.

It’s called Inclusionary Housing, and it’s not just a goal, it’s a product we’re creating, one we aim to deliver across the demographic spectrum. Through our efforts in the four following areas, we’re endeavoring to thoughtfully address the impacts of both gentrification and scarcity, inspiring a community that’s diverse in its personalities, opportunities, and experiences.

Workforce Housing That Works For More People

Of the 2,000 residential units being built in the West 2nd District, a more than 50% will be classified as Workforce Housing. These are residences defined as affordable to those earning 80-120% of the Area Medium Income (AMI), and determined by a maximum individual housing expenditure of no more than 30% of one’s gross income. That said, 20% of the District’s apartment inventory will be reserved for those earning 80% of the AMI, while over 50% of our condos will qualify for “Home Is Possible,” Nevada’s down payment assistance program.

 

Relocation With A Vision

There are currently 3,000 weekly motel residents in the downtown area. They range from youths to chronically homeless adults, with a vast majority of them earning less than 40% of the AMI. The West 2nd District’s on-staff team of social workers and relocation experts, working in concert with leading local organizations, has developed a comprehensive relocation protocol that will assist displaced residents not just in finding new accommodations, but in gaining access to the services that can change their lives. By bringing such vital voices to the table as the Reno Police Department, City of Reno Code Enforcement, Nevada Legal Services, Truckee Meadows Healthy Communities, and Washoe County to share ideas, energy, and resources, we’re not simply solving an immediate problem, we’re creating a long-term, collaborative blueprint for taking real care of our most vulnerable citizens.

 

Multi-Income Housing

This category of housing has the potential to transform the lives of both individuals and families while strengthening the very fiber of our society. Designed to serve population groups spanning from the chronically homeless up to those earning 60% of the AMI, the multi-income model is, by definition, inclusive. And with this inclusion comes the kind of robust socio-economic diversity that creates new networks of civic understanding and cooperation. There are several local organizations that have utilized HUD funding to develop multi-income projects. One of them is Juniper Village, a facility designed, not coincidently, by Cathexes, the architectural firm of West 2nd founder, Don Clark. While planning our own such facilities here in the District, we’re also advocating strongly for their development throughout the Reno-Sparks community.

Juniper Village Reno - Cathexes

Juniper Village consists of 44 one and two bedroom units as well as a community center. Situated within walking distance to many of its resident’s daily needs, Juniper Village is a socially responsible development intended to provide housing to an under-served population as well as create a catalyst for redevelopment within the East 4th Street corridor.