By: Rand Campbell
Bend continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. Prized for its quality of life, natural beauty, and recreation activities many people are leaving behind their urban homes and even moving across the country for a fresh start in the growing Bend area.
A huge issue for many cities in the West, affordable housing is also a concern here in Bend, due to the city’s rapid growth. For my generation, rent is usually a major financial burden taking up an enormous portion of one’s annual income. According to Oregon Center for Public Policy, half of all renters in Oregon are “rent burdened” spending over 30% of their income on rent with one out of four people spending over half their income on rent. For people moving to the area or those trying to start families of their own, finding affordable housing to rent or buy can be an overwhelming task.
Looking to the future it’s hard not to question whether the current growth rate is stable or if it will suffer a major setback similar to what happened during the recession. In a recent article by Portland’s Street Root News, employers in Central Oregon cited the housing shortage as a problem affecting the recruitment and retention of workers. Current population forecasts call for Bend’s population to continue to grow well into the 2020s but employers and economic developers fear that a housing shortage could be detrimental to the region’s long-term growth.
In a July 2018 article in the Oregon State Bar Bulletin, the author writes that in Bend a homebuyer would need to make $81,000 to buy an average-priced home. However, the City’s median income is only $59,400. The article notes that the City has expanded its urban growth boundary, eliminated system development charges for some affordable housing projects, and updated its comprehensive plan to remove barriers to residential development. Hopefully some of these policies will address the housing crisis in our community.
Rand Campbell is a law student at Willamette Law. When he graduates in 2019, Rand is interested in practicing land use law in Central and Eastern Oregon. Van Vactor Law LLC is excited to have him as an extern this summer.
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