Photograph of the front and side façades of a large two-story building, with several gables accenting the roofline and, in the background, snow-capped mountains.
Photograph of a kitchen with food and home goods on the counter and a dining/living area furnished with a sofa, television, and dining table with four chairs.
Photograph of a large, unfurnished space with a concrete floor, fluorescent lights, and large windows.
Photograph of a library lined with shelves of books and furnished with armchairs.
Photograph of a xeriscaped courtyard with a pavilion, brick and concrete paths, several benches, three raised garden beds, and a fenced dog park.

 

Home >Case Studies >Carson City, Nevada: Housing, Services, and Job Training for the Formerly Homeless at Richards Crossing

 

Carson City, Nevada: Housing, Services, and Job Training for the Formerly Homeless at Richards Crossing

 

Developed by the Nevada Rural Housing Authority (NRHA), Richards Crossing provides 38 units of permanent affordable housing for low-income veterans, the formerly homeless, and persons with disabilities in the state capital of Carson City. The affordable housing development, the first project of its type in the state, includes supportive services and a job training facility to empower residents to gain employment and attain self-sufficiency. Richards Crossing opened in April 2017 and won a National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies Award in the HOME Excellence category the same year.

Richards Crossing

Richards Crossing, a two-story, L-shaped building arranged around a courtyard, contains 39 one-bedroom apartments with full kitchens; one unit is reserved for the building manager. When the development opened, the apartments were identically supplied with furniture, linens, kitchenware, and other home goods donated by community members and Friends in Service Helping, the local homeless services organization that initially approached NRHA with the idea for Richards Crossing. Each unit features ENERGY STAR® appliances and lighting as well as tankless, gas-fired water heaters, and the building has a 5.7-kilowatt solar panel system mounted on the roof to offset energy costs. Four units have roll-in showers to accommodate wheelchairs, and two units are adaptable for residents who are hearing impaired.

Eligible tenants are individuals and families coming out of homelessness, with priority given to veterans. More than one-third of Richard Crossing’s residents are veterans, and nearly two-thirds have a disability. All the units are supported by project-based rental assistance; 30 units have Section 8 vouchers and 8 units have HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers. Twenty-three units at Richards Crossing are reserved for households earning no more than 30 percent of the area median income (AMI) per year, and seven units are open to households with incomes of up to 50 percent of AMI.

Amenities for residents include a library, exercise room, game room, and community room with a kitchen. Outdoor amenities, which are provided in a xeriscaped courtyard that is fenced for privacy, include three raised garden beds, a picnic area, and a pavilion. NRHA also took the unusual step of providing a dog park to meet the specific needs of people coming out homelessness in Carson City. “We learned that many people experiencing homelessness have dogs and often have trouble finding housing that allows companion animals,” explains Jeni Rios, NRHA’s director of rental and housing programs. Most Richards Crossing residents have large dogs, and the dog park is a well-used feature of the development.

Services and the Job Training Center

Various services, coordinated by the onsite property manager, are available to help tenants. NRHA’s real property administrator, Heather Simola, describes the array of services as a “buffet” intended to address residents’ varied needs, with a focus on promoting life skills and personal development. Some service providers, such as Carson City Health and Human Services and the Veterans Resource Center, help residents access government benefits and public resources. Other providers offer practical instruction, such as the computer skills workshops offered by the Professional Institute of Technology and Accounting. In addition, the property manager maintains a food pantry and distributes free bus passes to residents.

Volunteer organizations provide many services at Richards Crossing, an important indication of the sustained community support for and interest in the development. In addition, numerous volunteer groups put on events, help maintain the garden beds and library, and more. “It is amazing, how enthusiastic the community has been in its support for these residents,” says Bill Brewer, deputy director of NRHA. The Red Hat Society regularly stages well-attended craft days, and Timberline Animal Hospital provides free vaccinations for residents’ pets. Veteran-specific organizations such as Adopt-a-Vet and the American Legion Auxiliary also offer their assistance.

A defining feature of Richards Crossing is the job training center, which serves Richards Crossing residents and up to 200 community members per year. The 2,400-square-foot center was designed for maximum versatility, with a storefront entry, an overhead service door, and an internal entrance to the residential building. The center’s programs are similarly versatile, with providers teaching resume writing, interview skills, job search tactics, and other subjects to help residents get a job. “Because residents are of varying degrees of ability to work, a one-size-fits-all approach such as training for entry into a specific field is not feasible,” said Simola. The job training center’s space is also used to provide programming such as the Capital City C.I.R.C.L.E.S. Initiative's Getting Ahead workshops, which focus on economic self-sufficiency.

Financing

Low-income housing tax credit equity funded most of the project’s $8.6 million development cost. A HOME Investment Partnerships Program grant from the Nevada Housing Division helped Richards Crossing avoid debt financing, according to NHRA. Other funding included a $390,000 Affordable Housing Program grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco and a $100,000 grant from the Home Depot Foundation. Carson City provided $221,000 from its Community Development Block Grant program to cover most of the development cost of the job training center. Local businessman Garth Richards, for whom Richards Crossing was named, reduced the project’s cost by donating the site.

Table 1: Richards Crossing Financing

Low-income housing tax credits

$6,891,000

HOME Investment Partnerships Program grant

1,000,000

Other

711,000

Total

$8,602,000

Northern Nevada’s Housing Shortage

Although Richards Crossing is permanent housing and residents may remain for as long as they like, part of the purpose of the available services is to give tenants the tools to move on when they feel ready. When the development was being planned, NRHA expected that many tenants would wish to seek other accommodations after living in Richards Crossing for 12 to 18 months. However, before Richards Crossing opened, a housing shortage developed in northern Nevada; Carson City’s housing vacancy rate was slightly above 1 percent in 2016, according to NRHA. This shortage means not only that Richards Crossing’s opening was extremely timely for its tenants but also that the current residents are likely to remain in their apartments for the foreseeable future. NRHA has no current plans for additional veteran- or homeless-specific developments in Carson City, but it is developing an affordable workforce housing project and hopes to begin two housing tax credit properties soon to help ease the housing shortage for low-income Nevadans.


 

Source:

Sherry Wood. 2017. “NRHA Opens Richards Crossing Homeless/Veterans Apartment Complex,” press release, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, 13 April. Accessed 21 May 2018; Nevada Rural Housing Authority. 2017. “NALHFA Nomination Form Submission: Project Summary — Richards Crossing.” Accessed 20 May 2018; National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies. 2018. “Past Award Winners: 2017 HOME Excellence, Nevada Rural Housing Authority — Richards Crossing.” Accessed 20 May 2018.

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Source:

Joint interview with Bill Brewer, deputy director; Jeni Rios, director of rental and housing programs; and Beth Dunning, business administrator, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, 6 June 2018.

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Source:

Sherry Wood. 2017. “NRHA Opens Richards Crossing Homeless/Veterans Apartment Complex,” press release, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, 13 April. Accessed 21 May 2018; Correspondence from Beth Dunning, business administrator, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, 2 July 2018; Joint interview with Bill Brewer, deputy director; Jeni Rios, director of rental and housing programs; and Beth Dunning, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, 6 June 2018.

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Source:

Correspondence from Beth Dunning, business administrator, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, 2 July 2018; Joint interview with Bill Brewer, deputy director; Jeni Rios; and Beth Dunning, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, 6 June 2018.

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Source:

Correspondence from Beth Dunning, business administrator, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, 2 July 2018; Joint interview with Bill Brewer, deputy director; Jeni Rios; and Beth Dunning, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, 6 June 2018; Correspondence from Heather Simola, 2 July 2018.

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Source:

Nevada Rural Housing Authority. n.d. “Richards Crossing, Carson City.” Accessed 21 May 2018; Joint interview with Bill Brewer; Jeni Rios; and Beth Dunning, business administrator, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, 6 June 2018.

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Source:

Sherry Wood. 2017. “NRHA Opens Richards Crossing Homeless/Veterans Apartment Complex,” press release, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, 13 April. Accessed 21 May 2018; Correspondence from Beth Dunning, business administrator, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, 2 July 2018; Joint interview with Bill Brewer, Jeni Rios, and Beth Dunning, 6 June 2018; Correspondence from Heather Simola, 2 July 2018.

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Source:

Correspondence from Beth Dunning, business administrator, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, 2 July 2018; Interview with Bill Brewer, Jeni Rios, and Beth Dunning, 6 June 2018.

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Source:

Correspondence from Bill Brewer, 9 July 2018; Correspondence from Beth Dunning, business administrator, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, 2 July 2018; Joint interview with Bill Brewer, Jeni Rios, and Beth Dunning, 6 June 2018.

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