Affordable Housing Initiatives Lake Tahoe

Two lawn chairs sitting on the shore of a lake, with a mountain range in the background.
Pacific West Community – Henness Flats, Truckee
The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) recently awarded the Lake Tahoe region a $2.4 million grant. Through the bi-state Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), the money will be used for affordable housing and climate goals.
As the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the basin, TRPA was also awarded a $567,000 grant. These funds will advance housing choices, reduce vehicle miles traveled, and build upon the region’s Sustainable Communities Strategy.
The Lake Tahoe area has a $5 billion regional economy, primarily supported by tourism. Having so many visitors to this pristine community brings environmental impacts that must be managed. This is a large part of the focus of TRPA. From shoreline protections to environmental improvements, the area has received over $2.8 billion in funding to date.

Affordable Housing Initiatives

Affordable housing has been a challenge in all areas of Lake Tahoe as home prices have escalated. Many of our local service providers have difficulty finding affordable places to live. The state of California recently changed its zoning requirements to allow for the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs.) Even HOAs are forced to allow granny flats or additional structures on properties where this is prohibited.

The Mountain Housing Council, together with the Tahoe Prosperity Council worked with many partners to identify and activate local and regional approaches in solving the problem.

TRPA provides oversight for housing non-profits, local government partners, community institutions, private developers, and the public to help create opportunities for workforce housing projects. The Tahoe Living Working Group engages the community to develop height, land coverage, and density policies that encourage smaller, multi-unit developments to provide a more excellent range of housing types and affordability, especially in town centers.

TRPA adopted new policies in 2021 that made it possible to add accessory dwelling units (ADUs), such as granny flats or small apartments, to any residential property on the California side of the basin. TRPA has permitted 17 new ADUs since the change.
Various local governments around the lake have developed programs to address affordable housing. In South Lake Tahoe and Placer County, the Lease To Locals program was designed to compensate property owners for renting below market rate to local workers. So far, the programs have housed 114 people in 46 different properties.

Placer County

Placer County’s homebuyer assistance program provides up to $150,000 in down payment assistance to qualified applicants. To date, the program has resulted in three home purchases, with 30 more qualified applicants actively looking for homes.

Washoe County

Washoe County too, has been working with local non-profits through the Washoe Tahoe Housing Partnership. They are focused on the areas of Incline Village and Crystal Bay. The redevelopment of the Tahoe Biltmore also calls for 24 deed-restricted worker residences in its development plan.

TRPA has created a plan for a special pool of development rights called bonus units. They are only available for environmental and community benefits such as deed-restricted ADUs and residential projects. Through Housing NOW, 77 affordable housing units were constructed in 2014.


The Town of Truckee has set up programs that provide housing opportunities for a diverse range of income levels. By establishing levels considered to be below the area median income, tenants can find more affordable housing options based on income qualification levels.

One example is the Pacific Crest Commons. California has selected the former California Highway Patrol (CHP) site in Truckee (1.72 acres of State-owned land) and awarded a contract to develop housing on the site as part of its obligation to identify excess state-owned land and pursue affordable housing.

The project will include 55 housing units restricted to serve individuals and families earning no more than 80% of the area median income ($63,000 per year for a family of two in Nevada County).

While Lake Tahoe includes several counties, it is great to see how they are working together in innovative ways to create more affordable housing for the region.

Some listings currently have the coverage to support the construction of an ADU. Contact me today for more information about the real estate market in Lake Tahoe and Truckee.

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