November 12, 2019

Affordable Housing Needed in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Needs Affordable Housing

More than 5,500 people are homeless in Las Vegas. More than 14,000 Las Vegas residents be will homeless at some point this year. This is why Las Vegas needs affordable housing.

Las Vegas needs affordable housingWhere do you sleep when housing prices exceed your monthly budget to rent a home or apartment? Many Las Vegas residents are pushed to the streets. For a single-earner family to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Nevada, they would need to earn at least $18.85/hour.  Vegas also has a high population of residents with an extremely low income or no income at all. With a minimum wage of $7.25 (*2019) there’s a big numbers gap leaving the population to figure things out on their own.

Las Vegas has a higher than acceptable affordability issue than many cites. Vegas has an estimated 14 affordable housing (bed) options for every 100 people needing housing, vs. most cities that have 37 per 100. With more than 1,800 people on affordable housing waiting lists, it could be a while before this problem is solved. (1) Lack of affordable housing places low-income families at risk.  Las Vegas is in an affordable housing crisis and many are left feeling the affects.

Homeless Count- The Numbers Do Not Lie

The numbers do no lie. 5,500 people are currently reported as homeless in the 2019 SOUTHERN NEVADA HOMELESS CENSUS & SURVEY COMPREHENSIVE REPORT (2). With more than 14,000 people experiencing homelessness this year (2019) in Las Vegas, the need for change is great.  The report also says 60% of the current homeless population is living unsheltered. 10% of the homeless population are Veterans. On any given night, there are 1,184 unaccompanied youth who are homeless in Southern Nevada. (2) Homeless youth makes up 22% of the homeless population here. 6% are families with children and 88% are single adults.

Where do the Homeless sleep?

affordable housing las vegas architect
Photo by THE COLLAB. from Pexels

If the shelters are full or someone can not meet the shelter requirements/ rules/  for occupancy, they head for the streets and canals. Many stop turning to shelters and services because they are rejected for one reason or another. Other’s don’t have transportation to get there, pets are not allowed or they are afraid of the violence and theft that take place. Las Vegas county commissioners are looking at solutions, but the latest proposed topic has been to arrest people for sleeping in public! (The November 3rd NBC news article said it was a topic on the commissioners review for 11/6, but it was not found on the agenda.) (1)

Is Renting an Affordable Housing Option for Las Vegas?

A 2019 KTNV Las Vegas Chanel 13 news reports shows it is cheaper to rent than to buy, ” REPORT: Cheaper to rent a 3 bedroom than to buy one almost everywhere” (3) but the affordability is out of reach for many.  Who can buy a 3 bedroom, when renting a 2 bedroom cost more than double the minimum wage rates being paid. Minimum wage is not a living wage and not the solution. More affordable housing needs to be built and funded.

Rents Soar in Las Vegas, as the City Grows

Las Vegas has hit hard in the 2008 recession. The real estate market did not bounce back, but rather crawled back to where rents are now unreasonably high for many. (5) Ranked as a state with one of the strongest growth rates in the country, Nevada needs affordable options. (4) Las Vegas ranks as one of the top most populous cities in the state with a population of over 2 million (city proper).  “The Las Vegas-Paradise metropolitan area is expected to grow from 1.988 million in 2012 to 3.32 million in 2042. This is a 67% increase and one of the largest expected population booms in the United States.” (3)  Affordable and workforce housing solutions are need.

What Can We Do?

Las Vegas based SCA Design architectural firm has been collaborating with other architectural firms and professionals in the area to come up with solutions. The American Institute of Architects (AIA LV) has been focusing on the Blue Print for Better throughout the year. In August there was a day long design charrette called the “Blue Print for Better” where we looked at challenges and possible design solutions for affordability and homelessness. Below is the AIA recording of proposed solutions:




Conversations need to continue. Developers need to be aware of the financing options available. Tax credits need to be put in place. Properties inside of Opportunity Zones need to be purchased and developed. Redevelopment of neighborhood properties needs to continue to bring valuable resources to the areas. Solutions for mixed-use affordable housing financing and layering of grants and other funding options are necessary. Land and services need to be donated. Permit processing needs to be expedited. Laws need to be changes. Zoning requirements need to be flexible. Under educated populations need support systems for their families, transportation needs and earning opportunities near home so they can begin to afford to live where they work. Drug outreach and rehabilitation programs are necessary. People are needed to help make a difference. We are all part of the solution. There is not one way, but many ways to get there. Las Vegas has a long way to go.


SCA Design

AIA Blue Print For Better Design Presentation SCA Design Certificate
AIA Blue Print For Better Design Presentation SCA Design Certificate

SCA Design architectural firm is led by Las Vegas resident, Sheldon Colen. Established in 1995, SCA Design, LLC, is a medium sized architectural and design firm with 11 on staff, certified as an Emerging Small Business in Nevada. SCA Design specializes in Residential, Commercial, Retail, and Interior Design. With a portfolio of multi-family apartment homes and mixed-use design concepts, we can help you develop your next affordable housing project. SCA Design is located at 2525 W Horizon Ridge Parkway, Suite 230 Henderson, Nevada.  Visit and view the portfolio of local design projects completed.

Contact Nickel Lowman at SCA Design at 702-719-2020, for opportunity zone, design charrette, or media related questions and inquiries. Call 702-719-220 for a free no hassle, consultation.



(1) Help the homeless, or criminality them? Las Vegas debates a public sleeping ban

(*2019) Financial Impact of Minimum Wage

(2) Southern Nevada Homelessness Continuum of Care

(3) REPORT: Cheaper to rent a 3 bedroom than to buy one almost everywhere

(4) Nevada population

(5) Rent soars in Las Vegas, forcing people to find cheaper housing



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