Advocates shift supportive housing funding goals amid Lombardo pledge to not raise taxes
Though Gov. Joe Lombardo has pledged to avoid raising taxes this legislative session, Sarah Adler, the volunteer lobbyist for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is determined to find funding to expand supportive housing for Nevadans.
Her new plan? Divert funds from existing revenues rather than create new streams of income.
SB68, a bill sponsored by the Clark County Regional Behavioral Health Policy Board, originally aimed to raise statewide real property transfer taxes by 20 cents per $500 to fund supportive housing, but has since been amended to earmark 15 cents per $500 of the existing real property transfer tax for housing.
Supportive housing is permanent homes with built-in services such as mental health programs or assisted working environments aimed at providing a stable environment for those transitioning out of homelessness, but it is also used by those with disabilities who cannot live independently.
With this amendment, the Senate Revenue and Economic Development Committee on April 11 advanced the bill without recommendation, meaning it neither supports nor opposes the concept but wants to keep the idea alive in the session. It now awaits action from a budget committee.
As amended, Adler said the bill would set aside an estimated $14.4 million per year, or a quarter of 1 percent of the projected annual revenue in the general fund, according to the December 2022 Economic Forum projections.
Adler also said some of the $21.7 million per year the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health is requesting in the upcoming biennium for 88 forensic beds — or spaces for incarcerated people who need psychiatric care — could potentially be diverted to supportive housing.
Adler said more supportive housing could decrease the need for more forensic beds.
“If supportive housing were available at the front end for persons with mental illness, many of those individuals would never need a bed in a forensic facility,” Adler said.