Sage Street residents gather around an outdoor fireplace
Residents of the Village at Sage Street gather at the outdoor fireplace. Photos courtesy of VOA

The Village on Sage Street offers 216 small single-occupancy units in a dorm-style. They’re meant for minimum-wage workers looking for low-income housing. As rents continue to increase, many are priced out of the space they need.

VOA Program Director Devin McFarland says The Village on Sage Street works as “bridge” housing—the kind of place working people can stay while they’re building their income, saving money or trying to meet other financial goals.

“Our goal is that nobody pays more than 30% of their income,” McFarland says. “Our goal is to take individuals where they are at, get them to their own space that they have to live in while they work to either save up, pay off debt, build their credit, get a positive reference form for their next apartment, purchase a vehicle, go to school—whatever it may be—while not financially drowning.”

The Village on Sage Street was developed with the help of the City of Reno, the Community Foundation of Western Nevada and the VOA. The VOA has also been responsible for other affordable housing developments in Northern Nevada.

“Here at VOA, we like innovative challenges,” McFarland says. “We definitely have really enhanced and taken on any housing that we can get. It is a major focus of our organization to be able to provide a solution for housing and ultimately allow folks to become independent members of society again.”

The Village on Sage Street project started back in 2018 when city developers Allison Gorelick and Par Tolles got the idea from refurbished mining camps back in Wyoming. With the help of the City of Reno, they were able to fund it with a private-public partnership that didn’t use any federal dollars, according to McFarland.

Most assume that it’s meant to be transitional housing for homeless individuals, but McFarland says The Village on Sage Street is for anyone who can’t afford rent and falls within the income range. “We didn’t plan to focus on those who are unhoused, but rather all those who need affordable housing. So it could be your baristas. It could be your casino workers, your warehouse workers,” McFarland says.

“Our goal is that nobody pays more than 30% of their income.” Devin McFarland, VOA Program Director at The Village on Sage Street

Those coming out of homelessness are still a big part of Sage Street, however. “About 60% of my folks have transitioned directly out of homelessness to here,” McFarland says.

Some of these lodgers have been able to find employment to increase their income and afford rent, while others already had the income and only needed the chance to find housing. Lodgers pay $400 a month, and the program is supplemented by financial donations to provide for building and ground repairs as well as the classes that help lodgers build the foundation they need to move toward their next step of housing.

Sage Street has offered a few resources to help lodgers get back on their feet, from budgeting classes, SNAP assistance, and other financial courses. These resources, along with the ease of affordable living, set up more residents for success. Developer Allison Gorelick says, “It’s a nice community of folks. They’re all there for the same reason: looking to have a warm, safe place to be.” One lodger, McFarland says, was able to purchase and pay off a car while he lived at Sage Street. “And so now he has moved on to his own apartment, now he doesn’t have to worry about car payments for quite some time and has the added security that he needed.”

VOA Program Director Devin McFarland

By providing affordable housing, lodgers can get the comfort and support they need to move on to better, permanent housing in the future. “Part of our goal is to see everyone leave here on a positive note and have used us as a stepping stone to get to the next step,” says McFarland.

For more information or to support The Village on Sage Street, contact Christie Holderegger at cholderegger@voa-ncnn.org.

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