They Said It Would Never Happen

In about a year, 103 seniors will have beautiful new apartments in a desirable part of town near shopping, transportation and entertainment. On March 8, 2007, public officials from many levels of government, along with participants from local banks, joined together to break ground on a project many thought would never happen. This Las Vegas, Nevada project was the result of approximately eight years of efforts between the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land of Management (BLM). This is a fine example of partnerships that work.

[Photo 1: Artist rendition of Harmon Pines]
Artist rendition of Harmon Pines - 103-unit low-income senior development.

In 1999 Congress approved the Southern Nevada Lands Management Act. This Act allows the BLM to convey federally owned lands within the State of Nevada for the purposes of affordable housing at less than fair market value. The legislation didn't give many details or instruction on how to implement the Act. There were requirements that the land be conveyed to a local government or Housing Authority and that BLM work together with HUD.

[Photo 2: Six officials pose at site]
Left to right - Kenneth J. LoBene, Director Las Vegas HUD Field Office; Roy Porter and Phyllis Hargrove; HUD Senior Community Planning Development Representatives; Mike Mullin, Nevada HAND; Ron Wenker, BLM Nevada State Director; Douglas Bell, Clark County Resources Manager.

The local Las Vegas HUD office worked with BLM and the local governments as well as cities in Northern Nevada to develop guidelines to use the State Lands Act. The guidelines had to protect the public interest as well as provide incentives for development. It took numerous public meetings, presentations and draft policies, procedures and guidelines. In April of 2004 the final policy, procedure and guidelines were approved and published. The guidelines included up to a 95% discount to develop housing for very low, low and moderate -income persons.

[Photo 3: Seven people digging with shovels]
Official Groundbreaking Ceremony - March 8, 2007.

Clark County was the first to submit an application. They were first to develop a Request For Proposal from the development community to utilize the Act to build affordable housing. After even more meetings and working together, Nevada HAND, a local non-profit developer that specializes in senior housing, was selected to build the project.

This project defied the odds, overcame the bureaucracy and red tape and made history. The ground breaking was for Harmon Pines, a 103-unit low-income senior development on a three-acre parcel. This is the first of many to come. There are other projects already in the pipeline. The next one is proposed for low-income families.

Mr. Kenneth J. LoBene, Director, Las Vegas Field Office stated that: some thought it couldn't be done; some of us never doubted that it had to be done. There are thousands of acres of federally owned land in Nevada. We just need the partners to come together and make more affordable housing a reality. U. S. Department of Housing Development also provided $750,000 of Home Funds for this project.

For more details, please contact the Las Vegas Field Office.


Content Archived: August 18, 2011