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Survey Reveals Affordable Housing Hampering Local Businesses

BEND, OR -- A new report from the Bend Chamber of Commerce points to just how deep businesses are impacted by Central Oregon’s housing shortage. CEO Katy Brooks hopes the information will be used to affect state policy during the next legislative session, “But, it’s really clear that the way housing is set up on a statewide basis is really not working. There are lots of constraints in the state of Oregon, as far as land-use; as far as incentivization. “

Brooks believes it’ll take a multi-pronged approach that also includes employer-supported housing and increased use of ADUs, “If you can just get more units and lease them to the workforce that is hear, that just increases inventory and opportunity.”

The report surveyed more than 200 employers in Bend and Redmond and found 91-percent blame the high cost of housing for limiting growth and straining the existing workforce. “And, of those businesses, 52% said they’ve lost at least 5% of their revenue, directly related to their inability to hire people; and that’s directly related to the fact that they can’t attract them because folks can’t afford to live here,” said Brooks, adding there is not a one-size fits all solution, “It’s a silver buckshot, not a silver bullet. There are many things you’ve got to deploy at the same time. For example, you can have employer-supported housing, you can have new legislation that lowers the cost of building so it’s more attainable.”

Many companies have raised wages to help employees afford housing but the market is just too high for many in the workforce, despite pay hikes according to Brooks.

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