A person working full-time for minimum wage in Nevada grosses $1,320 a month. With rents in Reno averaging $1,239, residents in our area are facing untenable housing costs. This is particularly a challenge for members of our community who are elderly, low-income or who have disabilities.
To address this need, the Community Foundation of Western Nevada partnered with other local organizations last year to see what they could do to help. That collaboration resulted in the Village on Sage Street, a unique, dorm-style bridge housing community located between 4th Street and the railroad tracks east of downtown Reno that will help 220 community members with housing and a new beginning.
The rooms, which include a built-in bed, closet, desk and small television, rent for $400 a month. The modular structures were previously used in Anchorage, Alaska, as a man camp for seasonal oil workers, then in mining camps in Wyoming, making acquisition of these tested units affordable and quick. The Village also has shared bathrooms, onsite laundry, recreation space with gym equipment, a meeting room and an outdoor gathering area. Full electricity, heating, cooling and parking are all included for the $400 rent, none of which is subsidized by taxpayer dollars.
The owners of Rounds Bakery are also providing a small on-site marketplace, which is exclusive to Village on Sage Street tenants. “It will contain fresh and prepared food, as well as various sundry items,” explained Rounds Bakery owner Sean Cary. “We’re selling everything in the store with the smallest possible margin so tenants can buy what they need without spending a lot of their money.”
“This will be a game-changer for these people, giving them more money for the other things they need in their lives,” explained Community Foundation Executive Director Chris Askin.
Building a Village
The Village on Sage Street came together through a unique collaboration of private individuals and businesses, public agencies and social benefit nonprofits. The Community Foundation settled into the role of project lead and fundraiser, working toward the $8.5 million price tag; the City of Reno contributed four acres of suitable land, which will be held by the new Community Housing Land Trust; and Volunteers of America took on management of the completed facility. Private developers, contractors, businesses, EDAWN, Community Foundation donors, and generous community members all contributed to make the Village on Sage Street a reality.
Out of the $8.5 million necessary, $6 million has been raised over the past 11 months. The remaining funds will need to be raised through public and private donors.
Related: Listen to a KUNR podcast discussion on the project.
Living in the Village
Applications are being accepted for the 220 units, which are available to singles 18 and older, making between $1,300 and not more than $2,680 a month. Some residents will start moving into the Village on Sage Street in July 2019.
As VOA shares on its website, “Our goal for the Village on Sage Street is that this bridge housing is a hand up, not a handout or a profit maker. A person earning $9 an hour will be able to afford the $400 monthly rent and achieve savings goals. Any single adult who passes a background check and has an income of approximately $1,333 to $2,680 per month will meet the income qualifications for residency. All residents will be provided with financial counseling. While we expect the Village on Sage will be bridge housing, there is no time limit on the length of residency.”
Assistant City Manager for the City of Reno, Bill Thomas, explains that the rent was designated by working backwards to determine what people can afford. “We hope that this will allow people to get settled and stay in our community,” he explained.
The online form is for the initial intake and will be used as a pre-application to be placed on the waiting list, with applicants being contacted within 30 days. The full application process will include additional information such as verification of income and a background check.
How You Can Help
“The impact of Village on Sage Street goes beyond the 220 lives of its residents,” Askin said. “It created and strengthened vital community relationships, bringing together many groups with a shared vision of a better Northern Nevada and the potential we have to do more good things together.”