For Immediate Release
Contact: Amy Ventetuolo
Reno, Nev. Feb. 26, 2019. The following report highlights several important agenda items from the Washoe County Board of Commissioners meeting:
1. Board of County Commissioners take next steps on Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Commissioners heard an introduction and first reading of an ordinance establishing the Washoe County Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF).
Purpose. Washoe County is working with Acting in Community Together in Organizing Northern Nevada (ACTIONN), to address the growing need for affordable housing in the community to be used to facilitate the supply of housing affordable to low income households.
Structure. By researching best practices and configuring the AHTF after national structures, staff recommends working with the Community Foundation of Western Nevada to create the fund and provide oversight for the resources needed.
Projects. The recommendation for the AHTF is to fund affordable housing projects as recommended by the Washoe County HOME Consortium. All land and projects able to be funded could be located anywhere throughout Washoe County.
Funding. In terms of researching preliminary funding sources, while no funds were identified, this ordinance provides the framework for accepting public funds through the Community Foundation of Western Nevada.
Next steps. Based on the draft ordinance proposed today, Commissioners unanimously agreed to introduce the ordinance and schedule the second reading and final adoption to be held on March 26, 2019.
“Projects like this trust fund should be the purpose of what we do in the county,” remarked Vice-Chair Lucey. “We are getting an outpouring of support, and this will benefit the community as a whole. We look forward to moving this along and look at potential funding sources. This is just another piece of that puzzle, not just for affordable housing, but transitional housing and overall need for the community.”
2. Commissioners discussed policy on short-term vacation rentals. Commissioners provided policy direction to staff regarding short-term rentals in Washoe County. Today’s discussion was to better identify specific issues that a policy may address.
“We have looked at regulations from other counties and at those who have a ban; bans on short-term rentals don’t work. I’m a proponent of regulations on this issue to protect the citizens,” remarked Commissioner Berkbigler.
After discussion, Commissioners gave Dave Solaro, Assistant County Manager, direction on what specific issues a policy should address, including: good neighbor issues, safety issues, annual inspections and reviewing any similar policies from Reno and Sparks.
Commissioners agreed that a draft ordinance to regulate short-term rentals should commence, and any future draft ordinance needs to have public input. Solaro will bring back a proposed draft ordinance at a future meeting.
3. Commissioners welcome new Public Guardian, Tracey Bowles. Upon the retirement in October 2018 former Public Guardian, Susan DeBoer, Commissioners approved a recommendation to appoint Tracey Bowles as the new Public Guardian. Following a recruitment process, Bowles was selected and will serve a four-year term at the pleasure of the Board.
"We are excited to welcome Tracey back to our organization,” said Washoe County Manager, John Slaughter. “She and her team will continue to serve some of the most vulnerable citizens of Washoe County.”
Bowles holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Educational Psychology, both earned at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her previous experience includes practicing as a Mental Health Counselor for Washoe County Social Services, and has served as Acting Deputy Administrator for the State of Nevada Division of Child and Family Services where she oversees seven children’s mental health programs in Nevada. In addition, Bowles comes to the Public Guardian’s Office with strategic planning, budget development, and legislative experience.
4. Grant provides funding to Washoe County’s mentally ill and homeless. County Commissioners approved a $240,000 Case Managers grant to the help mentally ill in our community progress from chronic homelessness to transitional and permanent housing. Individuals with serious mental health illness in Washoe County who are at-risk or are chronically homeless, will be offered outreach and engagement services, intensive case management services, and assisted with access to bridge housing and permanent supportive housing.
In one year, Community Case Managers successfully moved 79 homeless individuals into housing and conducted 488 outreach contacts. Washoe County Case Managers maximize public and private community resources to aid the homeless in several ways. Community Case Managers help find housing for families and individuals whose incomes are at or below 50 percent of area median income and meet several criteria in order to receive help.
Funding for this grant is provided by the State of Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health and will be overseen by the Washoe County Human Services Agency.