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Lombardo urges Biden to ‘release’ federal land for housing development

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(The Center Square) – Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo is asking the Biden administration to “release” federal land to his state so more housing can be developed.

In Nevada, the federal government owns 85% of the land, the highest percentage nationally. According to Redfin, the median home price in the state for February was over $446,000, up 9.7% year-over-year.

Lombardo, in a letter sent to the president this week, urged him to slash “bureaucratic red tape” and streamline the process so communities can pursue more housing development.

“To address the housing crisis, the State of Nevada and our local communities need to access the land that is within their respective borders,” the governor wrote. “Unfortunately, we must rely on acts of Congress and severely backlogged federal agencies to secure the land necessary to grow. The federal process for privatizing land for development is too slow, too complex, and contributes to higher costs for Nevada families seeking homeownership.”

Lombardo also criticized Biden for establishing the 500,000-acre Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Clark County.

“If your administration met Nevada’s housing crisis with the same level of resolve, our communities would have room to grow and would be more equipped to meet pressing housing needs,” he said, noting that if 50,000 acres in the county were made available, it “would double the land available for development.”

The governor also cited a memorandum of understanding from federal agencies last year that allows qualifying public lands to be made available to local governments for housing purposes at prices under market value.

“Good intentions notwithstanding, lands subject to this new guidance have yet to see any material improvement in terms of putting them in the hands of people that can actually use them,” Lombardo said.

The governor said updating the state’s resource management plans under the U.S. Department of Interior should “provide a strategy for addressing the housing crisis.”

Lombardo’s letter comes as President Biden is visiting the state on Tuesday, where he’s expected to talk about the $1 billion in affordable housing funding the state received from the American Rescue Plan.

“This includes $700 million invested in affordable housing supply that includes major investments in senior housing,” a news release from the White House says. “As a result, Clark County has several major 200-unit affordable housing developments coming, and about 1,000 new senior apartments on the way thanks to the ARP.”

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