USA becomes a partner in two affordable apartment communities in Reno

All 132 apartments will remain affordable for decades and an $8 million rehabilitation is planned

USA Properties Fund has become a partner in two affordable apartment communities in fast-growing Reno, ensuring that low-income residents can remain in their homes – and will also soon enjoy the results from a multimillion-dollar rehabilitation of the properties.

USA Properties Fund becomes a partner and manager of Carriage Stone, a 55-and-older apartment community at 695 Center Street, and the former Dakota Crest community at 446 Kirman Avenue. Community Services Agency and Development Corp., a nonprofit with 13 affordable apartment communities in Reno, is the other partner.

USA Properties, one of the largest affordable apartment community developer-manager-owners in the West, doubles its number of properties in Reno with the partnership.

‘INCREDIBLE NEED TO KEEP THE APARTMENTS AFFORDABLE’

The apartment communities will share the Carriage Stone name after being packaged together in order to receive Nevada Housing Division-awarded bonds for the purchase and rehabilitation of the properties. Under the agreement, Carriage Stone’s 132 combined apartments will remain affordable housing for decades.

“Reno, like most cities in the West, is facing a critical housing shortage, especially when it comes to affordable apartment communities,” said Geoff Brown, President of USA Properties in Roseville, Calif. “We saw the incredible need to keep the apartments affordable, while also enjoying a great opportunity to expand in Reno – and Nevada.”

The apartment communities are less than a half-mile apart, close to shopping centers, restaurants, health care providers – including Renown Regional Medical Center and the VA Medical Center – and the Riverwalk District along the Truckee River.

“The apartment communities are in the heart of everything,” said Steve Gall, Executive Vice President of Development and Acquisitions for USA Properties. “It’s in an up-and-coming area in the midtown neighborhood.”

The central location coupled with the booming demand for housing that has prompted record-high rents in Reno caused some residents – and housing officials – to worry whether their homes would remain affordable.

“Unfortunately, many of the existing affordable housing projects in the region are being sold to for-profit investors after the affordability period ends and rents are then brought up to market rate,” said Leslie Colbrese, Chief Executive Officer of Community Services Agency and Development Corp. “The affordable housing sector is losing more properties than we are developing, and it’s tough to keep up with the private sector in terms of buying power.”

RENO IS ONE OF THE TOUGHEST HOUSING MARKETS FOR LOW-INCOME RENTERS

The affordable-to-market rate movement has forced many low-income tenants to pay much-higher rents or scramble looking for hard-to-find, lower-priced housing. For example, low-income residents applying for Community Services Agency’s affordable apartment communities have at least a two-year wait, Colbrese said.   

“We need more affordable housing not soon, but now,” she said.

Almost half of extremely low-income renters in Reno are considered cost-burdened, spending at least 30% of their income on housing, one of the highest percentages in the nation, according to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development. Rents for Carriage Stone are below the 30% threshold – and significantly less than nearby market-rate properties.

And Carriage Stone apartments will “remain affordable for another three decades, and will not be brought to market rate and further diminish our already scarce supply of affordable housing,” Colbrese said.

In addition to ensuring that low-income residents have affordable housing, USA Properties and Community Services Agency will spend at least $7.9 million for the rehabilitation of the apartment communities – or about $60,000 per unit, double the minimum required.

New energy-efficient appliances, LED lighting, low-flow showers and toilets, and numerous other improvements are planned for the units. The apartment communities will also get new heating and cooling systems, new roofs and other upgrades, such as improvements to the fitness room, library and TV room at the senior apartment community, and new furniture and outdoor play equipment and upgrades to the swimming pool at the other property.

“The rehab of Carriage Stone ensures the seniors and families living in these communities will be able to continue to afford a welcoming, comfortable and safe place to live,” Colbrese said.

The rehabilitation effort will be completed over an 18- to 24-month period, which will greatly reduce the impact on residents.

“We’re making a long-term investment in these apartment communities, their residents and the region,” Gall said.