Where are the locals?

Incline Beach

It’s easy to think that everything is okay in Pleasantville. In a small town, where everyone is so close, we make concerted efforts to avoid the reality of demonstrable privilege and scarcity.

We live miles from the entrance to Desolation Wilderness, a terrain of adventure and uncertainty, where some of the greatest writers in our history chose to go to escape the humdrum, but the rhythm of our life in Tahoe is ultimately affected by the reverberations of corporate growth and profit-motive dreamt up in the financial districts of concrete jungles.

This is a tenuous situation, because the trends of housing and growth in our area are taking a turn for exclusivity.

Tough Break for Service Employees

There is a theme materializing in the local housing literature. There is not enough affordable housing in Incline Village to provide service employees, who make up 41.2% of the area’s workforce according to IVGID date from 2008, a place to live.

Multi-family housing, which proves to be the only affordable arrangement for local service employees with an average hourly wage of $14.62, makes up only 8.9% of the Incline Village housing stock.

These are only a few of the statistics pointing to an uneven housing market on the North shore of Tahoe that were publicized in the 2009 Workforce Housing Needs Assessment of Incline Village and Crystal Bay, put together for the Washoe County Department of Community Development to “estimate the current and long-term need for housing  among area employees.”

60% of Incline Village residential properties are second homes, and as we speak major developments are fighting for life from Squaw Valley to Crystal Bay.

When a town provides more space, more services and a broader welcome mat for its visitors than for the residents that call it home, it runs the risk of detachment and irrelevance.

We have to ask ourselves, are we building a community, or a destination?

This will be the first installment of a series of posts concerning affordable housing in the Lake Tahoe area. I’ll be discussing my ongoing research and collaboration with Elevate Tahoe and Moonshine Ink in analyzing our current housing situation and the search for solutions and practices to alleviate housing disparity. 

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