Las Vegas—In a city where luck is not always on the side of developers, the successful opening of Silver Sky Assisted Living this summer was nearly a sure thing thanks to solid backing from key state and federal legislators and several state agencies.

Low-income seniors at the project 10 miles northwest of The Ttrip are moving into 84 one-bedroom and six two-bedroom units subsidized with housing tax credits, HOME funds and a healthy donation from one of the city’s largest casino owners. They benefit from an optional services package, and for eligible tenants, the services are financed with facility-based Medicaid waivers.

The project was the product of a five-year collaborative effort of the political, senior care, and business communities, spearheaded by Barbara Buckley, majority leader of the state house of representatives, said David Ennis of Affirmative Investments of Boston. The general partner is a limited liability company that includes Ennis’ firm, Nevada HAND of Las Vegas, and the Affordable Housing Resource Council of Reno.

Targeting levels and rent for the 90 units are as follows:

  • Three units for households earning up to 30 percent of the area median income (AMI): $331 per month
  • 51 units for households earning up to 50 percent of AMI: $553 per month
  • 36 units for households earning up to 60 percent of AMI: $663 per month

The total fee for rent plus services ranges from $550 to $1,897 per month, depending on income level. Market-rate assisted-living facilities range from $1,850 to $4,500 per month, according to Ennis.
The state legislature acted to make facility-based Medicaid waivers available. This allows residents earning between $6,000 and $25,000 per year to get full assisted-living services. The Medicaid waivers cover 54 units, and allow the sponsor to receive Medicaid reimbursement for the assisted-living services provided to eligible residents of those units. (Normally, Medicaid does not cover assisted living, so waivers are required).

Because low-income housing tax credit rules prohibit sponsors from requiring residents to buy a service package, the services at Silver Sky are optional.

The total development cost was $13 million, or about $144,000 per unit, thanks to legislation introduced by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that directed the federal Bureau of Land Management to provide the land for the project. The project sources and uses lists land acquisition costs at just $10.

Silver Sky brings together multiple sources of financing so that the total hard debt for the 90-unit project is $750,000 in a loan from Citibank, which also provided the construction loan.

Project financing relied heavily on soft loans, including close to $2 million from the city and state using federal HOME funds. Harrah’s Entertainment Group, one of the city’s largest casino owners, donated $800,000 in soft financing. Tax credit equity investment via MMA Financial was about $8.5 million. There was also $550,00 in soft money from the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program.

Management is provided by Southern California Presbyterian Homes.