LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A panel discussion held at UNLV was a deep dive into Las Vegas housing trends and how it impacts middle income families and even the racial makeup of neighborhoods.
Jenny Schuetz studied Las Vegas housing patterns for D.C.-based think tank Brookings Institution.
"Las Vegas has a fascinating housing market,” Schuetz said.
The discussion beginning by explaining why Las Vegas’ real estate booms and busts have such a huge impact on the middle class.
"So, in boom times prices go up more and in bad times they drop by more,” she said. “That has really important implications for people's ability to build wealth over time by owning homes."
And she says housing is critical to well being. It determines who gets access to jobs, schools and other opportunities. For most middle-income families home equity is their largest asset.
Despite a robust real estate market. since the Great Recession; Las Vegas has seen a decline in home ownership which varies greatly when broken down by race.
"So, white and Asian families are back to their pre-recession home ownership at about 60 to 70 percent and there's about a 20% gap with Latinos and a 30% gap with black families."
Other key findings were that housing costs are rising faster than incoming leaving most middle class Las Vegans in the rental market where they are at the mercy of landlords and soaring rental rates.
But it isn't all bad.
“Las Vegas has pretty low levels of racial segregation,” said Schuetz. “Even some of the newer developments they are putting not just single family detached homes, but town homes and apartments in the same larger project. That makes it easier to have economic integration. There's also pretty high level of racial integration."