- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

CARSON CITY, NEV. (AP) - Nevada lawmakers are considering creating a database that would make it easier for the state’s residents to find low-income housing.

AB139 would require the state Housing Division to compile listings of low-income apartments and homes and handicapped-accessible housing in a database that could be searched by home-seekers.

“This is a big issue at the national level, to be able to track this stuff and make it available and connect it with consumers that need it,” Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, said Monday.

The database also would be used to create reports, making it easier for state and local governments to get grants for affordable housing.

A similar measure was defeated in 2007 because it was considered too expensive. However, lawmakers were told that it would cost little to create and maintain the database. The plan would be funded by the state’s affordable housing trust fund.

“Low-income developers and developers for disabled housing all agree that the money should be used for this purpose,” Conklin said. “The fiscal note is probably nil in the long run.”

The bill states that the Housing Division could spend up to $175,000 per year, a cost that concerned some lawmakers.

But Julianna Ormsby, representing the League of Women Voters of Nevada, said the cost probably would be much lower. She said Utah spent about $40,000 over several months to build a database that Nevada could use as a model, and added that database costs decrease over time.

Using the Utah Affordable Housing Database, state residents can search for suitable housing by entering their monthly income and by stating their specific needs. People also can search for housing that caters to seniors, youth in transition, domestic abuse sufferers, people who are HIV positive, or homeless people with families. The Utah database also lists the waiting lists for those homes.

“If we’re going to spend any money on a database, it ought to be something that anyone can use,” Ormsby said.

Lawmakers also were told that most of the funding could be obtained through grants, as long as states and counties applied. Some counties already collect similar data, but the state lacks a central database that’s searchable by ordinary citizens.

The bill also would require housing owners to report quarterly to the Legislature about what type of housing is available.

“The housing market will eventually change, and this is a group that is largely left out of the developmental side of building homes,” Conklin said.

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