Las Vegas affordable housing complex opens as rental rates skyrocket

Gov. Steve Sisolak speaks during the grand opening of Arioso affordable senior apartment comple ...

A Las Vegas developer has opened an affordable housing complex amid fast-rising rents and concerns over Southern Nevadans’ ability to keep up with the higher payments.

Ovation Design & Development held a grand opening Thursday for Arioso, a 195-unit apartment complex in the southwest valley for low-income seniors. One-bedroom units start at $921 per month, two-bedrooms start at $1,105, and the rents include utilities, Ovation’s website indicates.

By comparison, the typical rental rate in the Las Vegas area as of April was $1,851, listing site Zillow reported. Las Vegas’ rents were up 21.3 percent from a year earlier, compared with a 16.4 percent jump nationally.

Nevada has long faced a need for more affordable housing units, an issue that has only been amplified lately during Las Vegas’ housing boom. Strong demand, tight supply and rapid price increases for buyers and renters alike have made it more difficult and more expensive to land a place to live in the Las Vegas Valley over the past year or two.

Gov. Steve Sisolak said at Thursday’s event that affordable housing is of “utmost concern” to him and that Ovation’s project puts a dent in the need for such units.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” Sisolak said.

Construction of Arioso finished in October, and the four-story project, along Blue Diamond Road near Fort Apache Road, is fully leased and has a waiting list, project manager Jess Molasky said.

Nevada, with the bulk of its population in the Las Vegas Valley, has an estimated shortage of 79,835 affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income tenants, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Sisolak’s administration has launched a $500 million program to boost affordable housing in the state. The initiative, Home Means Nevada, is designed to fund multifamily development and rehabilitation and to help homeowners.

It marks the “largest single investment in affordable housing” in state history, the governor’s office previously said.

At a kick-off event for the program in April, Congressman Steven Horsford, D-Nev., said affordable housing is a “real crisis right now.”

He pointed to Las Vegas’ “astounding” rent hikes, saying too many people are left “wondering what will happen if they can no longer afford these rapidly escalating rents.”

Arioso, for one, has drawn such tenants as 62-year-old Maria Del Carmen Palacios, who moved there in April.

Palacios said her rent costs $1,063 and that she collects her late husband’s pension, earns extra money as a school crossing guard and gets help from family, too.

She had been living with her daughter and said she had trouble sleeping when she learned one-bedroom apartments in the area would cost $1,600 a month, not including bills.

“It feels good to live in a place like this,” she said.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.