Housing crisis impacting forest workers in Tahoe Basin

This is a recurring recording of KOLO 8 News Now at 10.
Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 12:16 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - No different from our local workforce, those who fight hard to prevent and contain wildfires in our region face serious struggles with finding affordable housing.

Acting Supervisor for the Tahoe National Forest, Matt Jedra says the cost of living near the lake is impacting recruiting of temporary and seasonal staff.

“The past couple of years have been pretty tough for us,” he said. “Rents we see around the Truckee community, Forest Hill, upwards of two thousand dollars for rent and with entry-level firefighters come in, it’s really tough, they can’t afford that.”

Some have resorted to making long commutes from places like Sacramento and Reno, and even camping.

“Last year we ended up using one of our administrative sites to allow some of our employees to camp there, as their residence because we couldn’t find local housing,” said Jedra.

To help with this issue, the Tahoe National Forest is working with other organizations like the Truckee Rangers District to use administrative sites to build.

“High-density, red single-family home, residential housing at an affordable price for our employees but also opening it up to the community,” said Jedra. “We got the Truckee District Office right there, almost in downtown Truckee, we also have the Hobart Work Center.”

These efforts were shared with the community Thursday afternoon, during a virtual speaker’s series prepared by the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation. CEO Stacy Caldwell told KOLO8 News Now that her team wants to bring awareness.

“Somebody might reach out and say ‘Gosh, have you thought of this?’ or, ‘I know somebody who would really love to give to that and I want to make an introduction”, she said.

During the virtual event, the Lake Tahoe Community College (LTCC) also spoke about securing nearly $40 million to construct affordable student housing on campus.

Senior Director of Government Relations & Grant Development, Laura Metune says although it’s not a solution to the housing problem it helps the broader picture.

“It is a solution to helping us get more students into this workforce pipeline, it provides them affordable housing while they’re completing their education program and their educational program can include credit-based work experience so it could be that students are working in the field while they’re living in the facility,” she said. “We believe that by putting students on campus, we’ll free some of the limited affordable rental housing.”

The Tahoe National Forest currently offers government housing that’s around 60 to 65 beds, and according to Jedra is already taken.

According to TTCF since capping the number of short-term rentals in Placer County, Landing Locals has seen more people reach out for long-term rentals.

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