Our Community’s Future Depends on Housing

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation CEO Stacy Caldwell, who leads the Mountain Housing Council, recently penned an opinion piece for Moonshine Ink about the regional housing crisis. Read on to see her thoughts on how it will take the involvement of our entire community to solve our housing issues.


At a recent Placer County Board of Supervisors meeting, after delivering a presentation on housing, I sat down and listened to a parade of speakers tell their own stories of the housing crisis.

Sean Barclay, general manager of the Tahoe City Public Utility District got up and talked about not being able to live in the community he serves.

“We got tired of chasing rentals, and moved to Reno,” said Barclay.

JT Chevalier, executive director of the Tahoe City Downtown Association, wondered how long he’d be able to survive in the area.

“I am a 31-year-old and I want to own a house here,” said Chevalier. But after years of seeing skyrocketing prices and shrinking housing options, he said, “Honestly, it is a pretty bleak future.”

And then there was Alex Mourelatos of Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort challenging the audience and county supervisors to look around at the young professionals in the room, and to “be prepared to say goodbye to them in four years” because they “won’t be here because they can’t live here.”

I’ve been immersed in housing issues for the past two years. But that meeting hammered home what we all know — housing is everything. It is community. It is education. It is fire department response times and after-school programs. It is seeing a familiar face at a local concert and a friendly server at your favorite restaurant. Without housing our community crumbles.

In the room and behind the scenes are the partners and leaders of the Mountain Housing Council. Twenty-nine organizations — public agencies, home owners associations, and corporations — have banded together to accelerate “achievable local housing” solutions. They have committed their top leadership ranks to the group and are dedicating resources to consider policy, land, and funding toward potential solutions. Together, we are collaborating, facilitating, and engaging each other and the community. We’ve crisscrossed the community giving presentations, advocating for funding, and developing solutions and strategy. At times, we are overwhelmed by the scale of the problem, but more often we are inspired by the community support.

In our first year, we celebrate real results. Together we have helped a handful of developments move forward by working together, thinking creatively, advocating for funding, and educating our community. With 342 new units moving forward and more than $40 million in financial capital attracted to support those efforts, we are on our way. Yet, still more is needed, and it is never fast enough.

Read the rest of the article at http://www.moonshineink.com/opinion/our-community%E2%80%99s-future-depends-housing

Shipping Containers Become Truckee’s Newest Local Housing Solution

The shipping container project on Sierra St. in Truckee has a three-bedroom rental upstairs and a two-bedroom secondary unit downstairs.

Rick Lee’s idea has become reality.

What started as a bold concept to turn shipping containers into long-term rental housing for Truckee-North Tahoe locals has materialized. A three-bedroom home combined with a two-bedroom secondary unit opened its doors in late July in Truckee’s Armstrong Tract neighborhood.

The project shows how one person’s energy vision and perseverance can lead to creative housing solutions in Truckee and North Tahoe. And it highlights how a partnership with the Truckee Tahoe Airport District made the project a reality.

The airport district contributed $60,000 to help the project pencil out in exchange for airport employees having first right to the rental housing.

Lee, who founded and owned a boat building company, had lived in Tahoe in the 1970s and raised his children in Incline Village. He was aware of the housing shortage, but surprised at how severe it had become.

When he investigated the rental market and found hundreds of vacation rentals on the market but only a handful of long-term rentals, he decided to build a project that would meet the need for local rental housing. The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation’s North Tahoe Regional Workforce Housing Needs Assessment was also a key document that helped Lee understand the housing need in the area.

He purchased 11 lots off of Sierra Drive at the bottom of the Armstrong Tract neighborhood and set to work designing a home built from shipping containers on one of the lots.

The home was a unique structure made possible by a change in state zoning laws that allowed secondary units. The primary residence, constructed from three shipping containers, sits above the secondary unit.

“It was not going to happen unless you tried something really bold, and this was something bold,” said Lee.

The homes will rent out at $750 per bedroom — $1,500 for the two-bedroom unit and $2,250 for the three-bedroom unit — and will only be offered to to full-time local renters for the next 15 years.

While the shipping container build proved more complicated than Lee originally expected, he hopes to continue building on the remaining 10 neighboring lots with similar models, although he may not utilize the shipping containers on those homes.

The first model, however, sparked conversation and pioneered a new solution for long-term local rental housing in the area.

“I think the concept got some attention and got some people thinking,” said Lee.

Mountain Housing Council Program Director Seana Doherty (left), developer Rick Lee (center) and Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation CEO Stacy Caldwell (right) celebrate the opening of the shipping container housing project.