February 29, 2024 2:08 am
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Are Tiny Homes a Viable Solution to Nevada’s Affordable Housing Crisis?

Credit: iStock

Armand Jackson

As the housing crisis continues, with prices surging and supply dwindling, many Americans believe that affordable housing for both buyers and renters is becoming more unattainable. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Nevada has a  shortage of nearly 80,000 rental homes that are affordable and available to extremely low income households, many of which spend more than half of their income on housing. According to Las Vegas Realtor, as of the time of this writing, the average price for a single-family house in the area is $771,063. These factors contribute to the increasing rates of people experiencing homeslessness in the state. Nevada back in 2020 had an estimated 6,900 people experiencing homelessness with an increase to 7,090 in 2021.

One possible solution that has gained traction in recent years is tiny homes. Nevada’s Tiny Home Association, its partner builders, and legislative advocates like Democratic state Senator Dallas Harris believe that these homes can help manage these crises. SB150 was a bill sponsored by Senator Harris that passed the Legislature and became law in Nevada back in 2021. The law requires a county, like Clark County, with a population of 100,000 or more, or a city with a population of 150,000 or more, to designate zoning districts where tiny houses could be located as a secondary unit on a property, a single-family home or as part of a tiny house park. Smaller cities are required to designate zoning districts that could accommodate tiny houses in at least one of the three settings.

One possible solution that has gained traction in recent years is tiny homes. Nevada’s Tiny Home Association, its partner builders, and legislative advocates like Democratic state Senator Dallas Harris believe that these homes can help manage these crises. SB150 was a bill sponsored by Senator Harris that passed the Legislature and became law in Nevada back in 2021. The law requires a county, like Washoe County, with a population of 100,000 or more, or a city with a population of 150,000 or more, to designate zoning districts where tiny houses could be located as a secondary unit on a property, a single-family home or as part of a tiny house park. Smaller cities are required to designate zoning districts that could accommodate tiny houses in at least one of the three settings.

Tiny homes can range in size from 100-400 or more square feet, and vary in cost, and quality. They can also be used for either temporary or permanent housing depending on the circumstances. These homes usually include a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom with working utilities and a sink, stove, shower and other potential amenities depending on the architecture of the tiny home. There can be many benefits to tiny homes such as cheaper cost of housing, more eco friendly, more mobility, and less space to clean and in turn have less clutter. 

However there are cons to this like housing laws varying from states that are not easy to legally comply with along with some residents of larger houses harboring negative feelings towards those who live in tiny homes. There is also the low resale value of tiny homes, more constant upkeep, needing a large vehicle to tow the home when on the move, privacy and potential burglary issues, and storage capacity to consider. The main criticism of tiny homes is how they are promoted as the most effective solution to the housing and homeless crisis. Tiny homes and their respective villages could become to those who are wealthy a trend to eventually lose interest in or potentially abandoned and turned into trailer parks. 

As the National Alliance to End Homelessness states it, tiny homes are just one option. There are other options that need just as much enthusiasm and attention to effectively address the ongoing affordable housing and homelessness crises.