BEND, OR -- A new Regional Housing Needs Assessment released Thursday outlines the full extent of our housing crisis. Scott Aycock, with the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) and the Housing for All (H4A) consortium, says a lot has changed since the last regional study, in 2006, "We’ve gone through a recession, we’ve come back out of it, we’ve had another spurt of population growth, and housing is in a crunch again."
The U.S. Census Bureau released 2018 population estimates this week, showing Bend added more than 3,000 people last year; Redmond grew by nearly a thousand. In fact, every city in the tri-county area grew 1%-5%, last year. According to H4A's assessment, new housing starts are not keeping up with that continued demand, "From 2010 to 2016, Deschutes County produced about .85 new housing units per new household, Crook produced .72 per new household and Jefferson only produced about .28 new units of housing per new household that’s coming into the region. So we’re behind on supply," says Aycock. And, while a report can't fix the problem, Aycock says it can help narrow the focus for possible solutions, and measure what's working, "There’s only so many resources and policies we can pursue. So, the Regional Housing Needs Assessment is going to help us define where the greatest needs are so that we can focus our policy, our funding, our collaboration, our program development, all that kind of stuff where the needs are greatest." The report says 24,000 low- and moderate-income households experience housing needs. Aycock says that means they spend too much of their income on housing, live in overcrowded situations or lack basic housing essentials, like plumbing. Researchers say if nothing changes, that number will grow to nearly 31,000 households by 2028.
Aycock believes the time is right to look for solutions, "We’re actually in a rare moment where the Governor, the Legislature, County Commissioners, local City Councilors, everybody sees this as a high priority; we just have an incredible amount of consensus on the need to address this issue. Obviously, there’s always differences of opinion on how to approach it." But, he tells KBND News it’s going to take a combination of approaches, including zoning changes- to stimulate housing development, and subsidies for households already in crisis, "It’s an ongoing challenge to get ahead of this problem. In my opinion, there’s no single bullet. We need to build more housing, we also need to support households and it’s going to take the integrated effort of the private sector, the public sector [and] state agencies."
Click HERE to access the full report, including key summaries of the findings.
Housing for All is a regional housing consortium with the mission “To address the full spectrum of Central Oregon’s housing needs – from homelessness to middle income market housing – through integrated regional effort and action.” H4A is steered by 19 member organizations representing 13 different sectors related to housing. COIC provides staff support but does not oversee H4A.