By Lukas Eggen
Ely Times Staff Writer

The White Pine County Economic Diversification Council held a meeting to further discuss housing issues facing the county last Friday.

The council heard a report about an upcoming Rural Nevada Housing Demand Study from the Nevada Rural Housing Authority. Director of Real Estate Eddie Hult said the study will be a comprehensive look at future housing needs and one that will be able to show accurately what rural communities need to do to address housing needs.

“What we said is we want a picture of what these 16 rural communities, and it’s everything from Virginia City to Winnemucca to West Wendover back to Ely and Tonopah and back up to Fallon,” Hult said. “…We really wanted to try to get a feel not just two or three years ahead of us, but really 20 or 30 years ahead of us.”

The study, which the NRHA contracted Vogt Santer Insights to perform the study, is expected to be completed in the early part of 2014. The study will look at both the history of rural areas that rely heavily on mining, as well as social aspects to help build a picture of expected housing demand going forward.

Midway Gold’s Annette Brown said the EDC needed to find and address the specific issues holding the housing market back in White Pine County in order to find a long-term solution.

“I want our employees to have the option of where they’re going to live, do they want to live in Ely or Eureka,” Brown said. “If there’s not housing here, they’re not going to have any option…No more delaying or talk about it if we want people to land here.”

Community and Economic Director Jim Garza said it’s a variety of factors that are posing issues to housing availability in White Pine County, but that

“The best thing to do is identify properties…look at where the infrastructure is, look at what the cost is going to be and somehow collaborate,” Garza said.

White Pine County also contracted its own housing study in 2012. Ferrell Hanson, who attended the meeting representing the Rural Nevada Development Corporation, said the community and local governments must help these surveys any way they can.

“How we can help now is to contribute to the surveys that are out there needing information from local governments,” Hanson said. “Anything you can provide downstream is going to help all of us find the solutions to help fix the housing problems. If we don’t have that information available to us, we have to go dig for that information.”

The EDC also agreed to send a letter of support to the White Pine County Commission regarding funding support for the Rural Nevada Development Corporation. RNDC Business Counselor Tamera Brown said the RNDC is facing a funding shortage and its business counseling services may be cut if the funding is not found. Brown said they will be requesting $5,000 from the White Pine County Commission.

The DC also discussed follow-ups from its special workshop held on Oct. 29 regarding housing issues in White Pine County.
As the EDC works to address housing issues facing White Pine County to help give a variety of housing options available to residents, Chairman Wayne Cameron said he believes the EDC is taking big steps in the right direction toward finding real, permanent solutions.