New affordable housing community for seniors to open in Las Vegas

View of the new West Sahara Senior Housing complex, an affordable housing option, which has 171 units for low-income seniors. (Jannelle Calderon/The Nevadan)

By Jannelle Calderón

May 9, 2024

Hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested and awarded to help address the affordable housing crisis in southern Nevada, but the state still has a shortage of about 78,000 affordable homes.

A new senior housing community is expected to open this fall with 171 units to help address southern Nevada’s affordable housing crisis.

The West Sahara Senior Housing complex took two years to complete and is the seventh senior affordable housing complex built across southern Nevada by George Gekakis Inc., a real estate developer, in partnership with the nonprofit Silver State Housing. The properties add up to 691 units.

Rents at the new complex will range between $536 to 1,250 per month for a one bedroom apartment, and between $1,071 to $1,500 for a two bedroom apartment. Utilities, including WiFi, are included.

Eligible applicants must be over 55 years old and have an income ranging from $20,000 to $53,340. Seniors who receive Social Security benefits are eligible, but their income from Social Security is included when determining eligibility.

The facility — which includes a community clubhouse, pool, theater room, computer room, community garden, dog parks, and health and wellness room that offers check-ups and screenings — cost more than $50.8 million to build.

David Paull, managing director at CORE Advisory Partners, which represents George Gekakis Inc., said the biggest challenge was securing the land and the federal funding. Most of the funding, $34.3 million, came via the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, which provides a tax incentive to build affordable rental housing for low-income households.

“[It took] a lot of hard work and searching … It just happened to be the right time, and there was enough funding available,” Paull said during a tour of the complex last week with Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

The project was also supported by funds from the American Rescue Plan, which President Biden signed into law in 2021, and Clark County, including $6 million from the Community Housing Fund and $1.3 million from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), which is funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Sen. Cortez Masto highlighted her efforts to support more affordable housing development, including sponsoring the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, which would establish business-related tax credit for certain development costs for “qualified residential units.”

“This is a perfect example of a partnership that has to happen at a federal, local state and private sector nonprofit working together to bring affordable housing to our community here in southern Nevada,” Cortez Masto said. “It’s important for seniors to retire and live with dignity. This is part of it … They’re paying rent, they’re proud of it. There’s buy-in from them.”

But with more than 700 applicants on the waitlist, the project will only go so far towards addressing Nevada’s affordable housing crisis, which some groups have even named as the worst in the country.

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While average rents in Nevada have finally appeared to stabilize after surging every month over the last two years, many tenants are still feeling the strain. In Las Vegas, about 49% of apartments charge over $2,100 a month for rent.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition projects the state has a shortage of about 78,000 affordable homes to meet the needs for extremely low-income renters — at or below the poverty level.

Just this week, the Clark County Commissioners approved $66.3 million in funding for housing projects. The funding will go to nine applicants — awarded between $2.6 million and $12.9 million — for the construction or rehabilitation of 1,273 units for certain low-income families and seniors.

One of the applicants, Ovation Development Corporation, an apartment developer, and its nonprofit partner, Coordinated Living of Southern Nevada, were awarded two grants totaling $21.9 million that will support two two projects that are expected to bring nearly 600 affordable apartments to southern Nevada for seniors and low-income families.

The company said in a press release announcing the funding that it is aiming to begin construction on the projects between late 2025 and early 2026.

To date, Ovation has 14 affordable housing communities, totaling more than 2,000 affordable apartment units. According to the company, Ovation has seven more projects in the planning stages or under construction, aiming to add an additional 1,500 affordable residences by early 2028.

Previously, Clark County created the Welcome Home Program and Clark County’s Community Housing Fund in 2022, and County Commissioners approved nearly $120 million for 30 housing projects totaling approximately 2,500 units, including both new construction and restoration.

The Biden administration this week also announced another $43.9 million in federal investments to improve and expand affordable housing in Nevada. The funding comes from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and includes over $23 million via the Community Development Block Grants program, which supports community improvements, and more than $4 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons With HIV/AIDS program to provide stable and permanent housing assistance and supportive services to low-income people living with HIV.

“No one should have to worry about how to keep a roof over their head and these new investments will directly address that issue for a wide variety of southern Nevadans,” Nevada Rep. Susie Lee (NV-03) said in a statement.

  • Jannelle Calderón

    Jannelle Calderón is a bilingual politics and community multimedia reporter with a passion to highlight the human side to policy and issues as well as showcasing the vibrant cultures found in Southern Nevada. She previously reported for The Nevada Independent and graduated from UNLV.

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