Real Estate

To spur affordable housing, the federal government is selling land for dirt cheap

The move is being made to spur construction of more affordable housing units in the Las Vegas metropolitan area

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Interior announced this week its plans to arrange the sale of federal land to the State of Nevada in an effort to spur construction of affordable housing units in the Las Vegas metropolitan area.

The arrangement, codified in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by both departments, establishes an arrangement to sell federal lands to the state at a rate of $100 an acre, far below the land’s market value. The sold land will be used for “the construction of critically needed affordable housing projects in Southern Nevada,” according to an announcement from HUD.

“We are proud of the partnership with the Department of the Interior to help families in Nevada get access to homes they can afford,” said HUD Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman. “This builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts announced last week to ensure an increase in housing supply to lower costs across the country.”

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) was a key player in the development of the arrangement, according to local reporting by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“Nevada is facing an affordable housing crisis and we need to be doing more to ensure we can build more homes for working families,” Cortez Masto said in a statement. “For too long developing affordable housing on public lands in Nevada has been bogged down by an inefficient process, and I pushed for these vital improvements that will make it easier to build more homes for Nevada’s working families.”

The arrangement and inter-departmental collaboration is made possible by the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA) of 1998, which “allows the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell public lands within a specific boundary around Las Vegas, Nevada, for development,” HUD detailed.

Additional authority is established in a specific section of the law since the land is being sold well below fair market value.

“Although SNPLMA requires parcels to be sold for fair market value to fund education, water and public lands projects in Nevada, Section 7(b) of the Act allows state and local governments to purchase land for a nominal cost to support affordable housing,” HUD said.

Within Clark County – the area that contains the Las Vegas metro area – officials say that there is a shortage of approximately 85,000 housing units, echoing issues being faced across the country.

“Clark County has long advocated for more land to alleviate affordable housing challenges and recently worked with the BLM to negotiate the process reflected in the MOU,” a county spokesperson told the Review-Journal. “While this took some time to be formalized, we are happy this is moving forward now to benefit our community in the long-term.”

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