Real need for affordable housing here
As a 25 year resident of Douglas County, I have witnessed many changes in the growth, economy, and housing market in our community. I have served in many roles as a resident and volunteer of the valley including past President of Sierra Nevada Republican Woman’s Association, past President of the PTSO for Gardnerville Elementary School, past and current President/VP (DC) of Silver State Pony Club on and off for the last 25 years, current National Examiner for the United States Pony Club, and I have been a mortgage loan officer in the Carson Valley for more than 20 years. I have volunteered for several local clubs, campaigns and associations in many capacities. I earned my bachelor’s degree at UNR which took the better part of 10 years because I paid my own way not wanting to accumulate student loan debt. My first job in Gardnerville was working on a ranch making $5 an hour mucking stalls and training horses. I did whatever it took to make my way… and I say all of this to make a very valid point about coming to our county to start a life — it’s not cheap! Most of us living here today came from someplace else, most likely the state to our left which we escaped because of sprawl, crime, intrusive government and a hundred other reasons.
I love our county and I am in favor of slow sustainable growth despite my line of work. It is important to balance community growth with the preservation of the beauty and aesthetic charm our ranching heritage provides. Our desire to live in Douglas County is because of its beautiful lakes, mountainous skyline and a cattle filled valley, and our goal should be how to keep it that way. Over the last 20 years, we have conserved tens of thousands of acres to preserve our rural atmosphere. As we continue to do this, the remaining developable land continues to become more valuable since over 65 percent of the land in Douglas County is owned by the federal government. However, to protect our beautiful county we must be careful not to slow economic growth because an expanding economy is paramount to maintaining this beautiful place we call home.
My understanding is that about 25 percent of the Douglas County population is seniors. As these seniors age, they require more services. The people who provide these services to seniors and all who live in the county are the future of Douglas County. These are hardworking folks such as teachers, mechanics, bankers, construction workers, EMT’s and sheriff deputies who get married and raise families, and they need affordable housing. They start off living in apartments as most homeowners do, and then buy their first house. We don’t want to become a bedroom community, and while retiree’s are an important and viable segment of Douglas County, we need “affordable “housing (multi and single-family) for those who are also valuable contributors to community. Many of those whom I referenced above, commute to our county but spend their hard earned dollars elsewhere. Why not provide them an opportunity to live where they work. As we conserve land throughout the county, the cost of remaining developable land rises. As the land costs rise, the cost of housing rise. Thus, the need for higher density housing close to existing infrastructure & services which helps create more affordable housing (by the way, this does not imply HUD housing but rather quality housing in the $200,00-$280,000 price range). By providing a safe environment in today’s crazy society, keeping quality people who live and work in our community can only help ameliorate the social & criminal issues we face in today’s world.
In my line of work now, I continually run into a scenario that challenges home buyers being able to both live and work in Douglas County. There is an immediate need for affordable housing since without it we cannot provide residential living for many hard-working median income jobs which include hundreds of the jobs I mentioned above. Our community would be safer, friendlier, and stronger if we had more affordable housing.
Denise Walsh Beronio is a Gardnerville resident