Carson City Rental Refuses Family with Children

A new study from apartment rental company Zumper shows Reno has the 66th highest rent in the country, even though it's only the 85th largest city, according to Census data.

Zumper's national rent report shows a one bedroom apartment in Reno is nearly 16 percent more expensive in March 2018 than it was in 2017, and those prices went up last year, too.

The trend is putting a squeeze on lower-income people, who are increasingly turning to the government for help.

"Their fear is that they're not going to be able to find a place that they can afford that will rent to them before they become homeless," Reno Housing Authority Deputy Executive Director Mishon Hurst said. "That is a huge fear for a lot of individuals, families, disabled, veterans."

Unfortunately, Hurst said many of them do become homeless.

"We are seeing a huge increase in the homeless population locally because of this problem," she said.

The Reno Housing Authority, the local branch of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, works to help supplement rent for 2,500 people, but their voucher program is full, and they have a 3,000-person waiting list.

On top of that, they are getting less funding from the federal government.

"We are getting less federal money when the need is increasing and few places are affordable," RHA Community Outreach Coordinator Brent Boynton said. "We get to see the problem firsthand. Rents are outpacing the economy here. It's hard for average families to pay the rent. It's much harder for people in the bottom who are getting squeezed out."

The study found the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Reno is about $800 a month, and just under $1,200 for a two-bedroom; in many cases, too high to qualify for federal subsidies.

"Right now almost every apartment in our area is priced higher than fair market rate," Boynton said, explaining that the federal government will only allow vouchers for market-rate housing or below. He said that HUD is working with two-year-old data, which doesn't accurately reflect the situation in Reno.

Boynton said he isn't optimistic that more federal funding will be headed their way, and said that new solutions will have to come from public/private partnerships, like agreements with local landlords. They are hoping to get more landlords on board with lower rents, or at least smaller increases.

"I'd say this is one of the biggest problems that our city and our region is facing over the next five, ten years," Boynton said.

Although the RHA has a closed waiting list for vouchers, Hurst said they still can offer help to people looking for affordable housing, or struggling with a rent increase. To reach out to the Reno Housing Authority, click here.