SALEM, OR -- Many Oregon cities continue to struggle with a severe shortage of affordable housing. Lawmakers took up the issue again, during last week's Legislative Days, in Salem.
Economist Josh Lerner, with the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, tole lawmakers with more people wanting to move to key areas of the state, the region can't keep up. "Urban Oregon - Bend, in particular; Portland is obviously getting the most press in terms of the affordability crunch - have good economies and a very high quality of life. And, as such, we're victims of our own success and the price of housing gets bid up, particularly when we're supply constrained and do not have enough supply on the overall market. So, your affordability erodes because the demand is so high to live in a place that's a great place to live and has a good economy."
And, he says urban growth boundaries complicate matters. "When we're looking at the problem of 'where can we build?' The answer is 'not in as many places.' And, to further complicate things, if the density isn't allowed by zoning, by right, in those areas, we can't add the density there. So, this is the trade-off as we start to look at what the market wants to do, versus the regulation."
State lawmakers will meet again in September and December, to get ready for the next Legislative session which begins in January 2017.