More people than homes challenges Clark County, Nev.
Clark County, Nev. is much more than Las Vegas fun. In 2017, Clark County added more residents than all but one other county in America. In other words, the county has many more people than homes. Today in the county, a quarter of residents pay more than 50 percent in rent and over a third of residents feel there is a housing shortage.
The economy in Clark County is growing — not dangerously booming — but smartly diversifying through such commercial endeavors like super-computer companies and manufacturing, and a different type of gaming, as exemplified by the new NHL and NFL teams. A thriving economy equates to a growing workforce. But when you combine this with rising costs to build homes stemming from higher material costs for lumber and steel; increased regulations, fees and financing costs; and a chronic shortage of skilled labor, especially in the construction industry, a housing shortage occurs.
The federal problems may not be solvable at the county level; for example the 26 percent tariff implemented last year on Canadian softwood lumber (used for house framing) has caused the price of lumber to rise over 30 percent and resulted in a cost increase of $6,500 for an average single family home.
But solutions are on the horizon in Clark County.To meet the increase in demand and to do their part to help keep housing affordable, the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association (SNHBA) is taking action to increase the number of skilled construction workers in Southern Nevada. The board of directors and Nat Hodgson, executive officer, have hired a community relations manager, Kristy Livingston, who will be focused on workforce development. Their training program will increase the number of available workers for SNHBA members.
“I am truly excited to bring awareness of our industry to students and veterans,” said Hodgson. “We want to make sure we share the bright opportunities the industry has to offer through the program we are developing.”
Most of the costs for the training will be covered by housing industry companies but this public-private partnership will also pair the SNHBA membership with the Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation for the New Nevada via certification and state grants. The SNHBA program will train more than 100 workers a year in various trades and place them in good paying jobs. To build a new single family home there are over 25 different skilled trades involved. From architect to roofer and interior designer, the members of SNHBA need additional team members. The trainees will also receive an OSHA card, software training, and soft skill/customer service training in order to compete for top wages.
Housing market demand is far outpacing supply in southern Nevada but partnerships between business and government will increase the skilled labor workforce and help more residents of Clark County — and across America — say, “I am home.”
County leaders and staff demonstrated the challenges counties face in encouraging housing construction and the creativity they are employing along the way.
Senators introduced the Rural Partnership and Prosperity Act, bipartisan legislation intended to advance economic development in rural counties and overcome barriers to obtaining federal funding and resources.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s U.S. Program strategy aims to ease access to safety net benefits, help local leaders promote economic mobility and join partners to unify the economic mobility field.