Virtual Meeting Held on April 11, 2022

The Northern Regional Behavioral Health Policy Board held a subcommittee meeting regarding supportive housing on Monday, April 11 via Zoom. Led by Amy Hyne-Sutherland, presenters included Brooke Page from Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), Catrina Peters from Washoe County Office of the County Manager, and Sarah Adler from NAMI Nevada. The purpose of the meeting was to address affordable and low-income housing, homelessness, supportive housing needs, cost modeling, and solutions.

The meeting began with Brook Page from Corporation for Supportive Housing Emphasis was put on the distinction between developing a crisis response and creating a permanent solution. Emergency interventions are not the same as permanent, stable housing. The focus needs to go beyond the homeless system and begin to identify specific populations experiencing disparities in homeless services. When affordable housing meets the community’s needs, there will not be as great of a need for crisis interventions and homeless shelter services. Once affordable housing is addressed, resources can be refocused on helping people experiencing a housing crisis.

Need modeling is an important tool that identifies the specific population in need and creates a goal for the community. Need modeling makes the long-term vision more precise by focusing on the vulnerable population, disparities in the community, where resources are being utilized, service models, political will, and a goal-driven timeline. Need modeling will also address the gap in the resources. To assess the needs across the outreach systems, there must be a methodology to understand how many people are affected, what resources currently exist, and what share of the population has unmet needs.

Catrina Peters presented some of the specific needs of Washoe County, as well as the current housing and homeless services offered.  An increase in average rents and housing costs combined with a decrease in affordable/supportive housing options and stagnant wages has created a “perfect storm” of a housing shortage crisis in the county.  Peters also discussed how many homeless services have recently transitioned from the city of Reno to the county in a short amount of time.  There is an incredible amount of need in Washoe County for supportive housing due to a significant loss in group homes and assisted living facilities.  Limited local, state and federal funding has also contributed to the problem.  Future steps to address the problem include 50 additional units at the NV Cares Campus, advocating for supportive housing policy, exploring partnerships to increase supportive housing units in the county, and constant messaging on what effective housing models are and where the need is concentrated.   Permanent supportive housing is the ultimate goal.

Sarah Adler focused on revenue streams to create housing for the lowest income Nevadans.  Adler went into detail on who needs which types of housing and how the housing finance system works.  She also described project-based rental assistance, which was described as a “three-legged stool” of buildings, vouchers, and services.  The revenue stream solution presented on behalf of NAMI Nevada was an increase in the percentage of the Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) directed to the Nevada Account for Affordable Housing that would directly benefit the lowest income Nevada residents.  NAMI Nevada is currently looking for a bill draft sponsor for the next legislative session to sponsor this proposal.

Final discussion points at the end of the subcommittee meeting included positive feedback towards all presenters and recommendations to the Northern Region Behavioral Health Board.  A motion was approved by the subcommittee to make a recommendation advocating the state for the following: for the state to utilize funds for the regional modeling presented by CSH; for a portion of Governor Sisolak’s housing funds to go towards supportive housing; for sustainable funding streams for supportive housing and staying abreast of the conversations that are actively happening around pertinent legislative action; supporting the state in developing 1915-i and involvement in the 1915-i conversations.  

Written by: Michelle Kirkland and Elizabeth Skidmore, Masters of Social Work, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada Regional Behavioral Health Policy Board Interns