As term comes to end, Sisolak boasts about housing programs

From: Las Vegas Sun

Assistance might soon be on the way for hundreds of Nevadans after the Sisolak administration last week outlined how it would use $500 million from the federal government to make more affordable housing options available.

The Nevada Housing Division has proposed four spending categories for the “Home Means Nevada” program, which was awarded the $500 million after passage of the American Rescue Plan by Congress in early 2021, Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a news release.

Among them, $300 million will be dedicated to multifamily developments, $130 million will go to preserving existing multifamily homes, $40 million will be used to acquire land from the federal government, and $30 million for 200 new single-family homes as and rehabilitating existing homes to accommodate disabled residents, Sisolak’s team announced.

The state anticipates it could produce up to 1,000 new units from the $300 million allocated for multifamily developments for families and seniors earning less than 60% of the area’s median income. Between 10% and 20% of those units are intended for those making less than 30-50% of the area median income, according to a news release.

The $300 million multifamily investment, coupled with other debt funding, could yield upward of 1,700 new units, the governor’s office estimates.

That includes approximately $14.7 million for development in North Las Vegas for 218 units; $70.8 million for 560 units in Las Vegas; $15.7 million for 304 units in Henderson, and an additional $22.3 million for 195 units in unincorporated Clark County.

Under the land acquisition provisions of this initiative, North Las Vegas would also get $10 million to purchase land aimed at assisting low-income individuals and families. Money would also be given to the city of Sparks, Churchill County, the Reno Housing Authority and the Nevada Rural Housing Authority to secure roughly 100 acres of land and create 700-800 households.

Clark County would see to gain about $6.5 million for three separate programs aiming to rehabilitate 317 units, according to the release. Some of that money would be used as part of an incentive program to drop the cost of new homes from $500,000 to $350,000, in the form of down payment assistance or other purchase mechanisms that could go toward 200 new single-family homes, Sisolak’s officer said.

The funding will also be used to rehabilitate up to 7,000 existing homes statewide to retrofit them with safety and energy-saving equipment for disabled and elderly Nevadans.

The initiative, launched by Sisolak in April, likely caps his accomplishments as the state’s top executive. He was defeated by Republican Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo in November’s midterm election by 15,386 votes, or 1.51% and will leave office in January.

Sisolak in the release said the funding program completed one of the cornerstone goals of his administration: achieving more affordable housing amid Southern Nevada’s recent housing boom.

“I’m so proud that through collaboration across all levels of the public and private sector we’ve made Nevada’s single–largest investment into affordable housing to tackle one of our state’s most complex issues,” he said. “These projects will create positive change for generations of Nevadans — ensuring that more families and underserved, low-income communities will be able to find an affordable home. Finding a home for just one more Nevadan has been my goal since day one — and this initiative will provide a safe place for thousands of Nevadans across the state.”

Amodei votes ‘no’ on same-sex marriage bill

The U.S. House on Thursday passed a bill codifying protections for couples in same-sex and interracial marriages, affirming a historical bill that was sent to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Three of Nevada’s four representatives in the House — Democratic Reps. Dina Titus, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford — voted in favor of the bill while Republican Rep. Mark Amodei voted against it. The bill easily cleared the House with bipartisan support, passing 258-169.

In a statement after the bill’s passage Thursday, Amodei said he acknowledged that Nevada voters in 2020 passed a referendum process to protect same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution. And while pledging “support and respect the use of that process and the will of Nevada voters,” he said he believed the bill unnecessarily regulated marriage at the federal level.

“It is also a fact that as a result of the “Full Faith and Credit Clause” in the U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 1, that marriages that are valid in the present 36 states, are valid everywhere in the country. Just like your Nevada driver’s license is good in Florida, so is your Nevada marriage license,” Amodei explained in his statement. “Accordingly, the need for federal legislation on what has traditionally been state jurisdiction, in this instance — marriage laws — continues to be unapparent.”

The bill was introduced in Congress shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June to overturn the landmark precedent set in Roe v. Wade, which held that women had a constitutional right to access abortion. Lawmakers in both congressional chambers expressed concern after Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion striking down Roe that the court may revisit similar decisions regarding same-sex marriage and the availability of birth control.

Amodei recognized that Thomas’ comments made some feel uneasy but maintained that the language of the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows states to dictate their own laws on marriage.

“I know that there are people who think that a statement made by Justice Clarence Thomas is a nightmare in the making, but I simply disagree that one Supreme Court justice’s sidebar creates a clear and present danger to freedom and justice in America,” Amodei said.

“The states have always set forth their rules in relation to marriage. It is their absolute right to do so. They are doing fine. I will not support an unwarranted and unnecessary federal power grab, especially under the political guise of protecting a group of Americans who currently enjoy the full constitutional protections of the Nevada and United States constitutions.”

Fallon expansion included in new defense spending bill

Nevada’s congressional delegation also announced last week that language to expand the U.S. Navy’s Fallon Range Training Complex would be included in the fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, the spending bill that funds military spending.

In a statement U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., credited bipartisan compromise between Amodei and fellow Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev. to secure the funding.

“The responsible expansion of the Navy’s Fallon Range Training Complex that I negotiated will improve our national security, fuel economic growth in Churchill County, and preserve important cultural heritage sites for Tribal nations,” Cortez Masto said in a statement. “I worked closely with Senator Rosen and Congressman Amodei, the (Biden) administration, Senate Armed Services Committee, congressional leadership and all local stakeholders to secure this agreement and will make sure it is in the final NDAA.”

In a separate statement, Amodei called the compromise a win-win that will address naval aviation and SEAL training programs, as well as meet the needs of Churchill County and local Walker River Paiute and Fallon Paiute Shoshone tribes.

The training complex itself will be able to expand with an additional 558,535acres, the majority of which will serve as buffer zones and to ensure warfighters are equipped with the “best training resources possible,” Amodei said. The agreement also will designate more than 573,000 acres of land for conservation and wilderness areas, as well as give an additional 18,353 acres to the Walker River Paiute and Fallon Paiute Shoshone tribes.

The Walker River Paiute Tribe will also receive $20 million in recognition of “historical contamination” of their tribal lands.