One western city has decided to tackle the housing affordability crisis head-on.  According to NPR, Reno, Nevada has approved a plan to construct 1,000 new homes in 120 days.  In a Saturday broadcast, produced and written by Chris Bentley, NPR newscaster Kathleen McKenna called Reno, self-promoted as "The Biggest Little City in the World," is also one of the least affordable cities in the country relative to household income. The median home price in the city is $420,500. 

Reno mayor Hillary Schieve told the network that the city has seen many high-tech companies such as Tesla, Google, Apple, and Amazon relocating some of their operations to Reno, escaping the million-dollar plus home prices in the Silicon Valley. She said its current housing market can be partially attributed to the high rate of foreclosures and unemployment during the Great Recession.  Many builders and developers were badly burned in the downturn and have been reluctant to pick up the pace of construction despite what is now high demand.

For the next four months, Reno is offering to delay developers' fees on new buildings with 30 or more units in hopes of enticing builders currently put off by high infrastructure costs.  These payments, which include sewer fees, can run as high as $10,000 per unit. The pilot plan will give developers the ability to hold off on initial payments and put the savings toward funding other construction.  When developers apply to delay fees, the city council will lean toward favoring plans that include a mix of affordable workforce housing.

Schieve stressed that the plan "isn't a freebie" for wealthy developers.  Fees are not totally eradicated; they will be tacked onto the final amount at the end of construction. "We will get every penny back," she says.

Projects that qualify for the plan must be completed within 18 months. If a project is left unfinished, i.e. becomes a "zombie project," the city will put a lien on it and own it.

The Mayor told NPR that Reno must diversity if it is to survive another recession. It relied heavily on its history as a gaming town in the last recession which made it especially hard for it to climb back. She hopes the housing incentives will bring in a variety of developments to an area with "a lot to offer," such as an "absolutely sensational" climate, multiple skiing options, the world's tallest artificial climbing wall, and the scenic Lake Tahoe nearby.