Advocates seek to boost stock of affordable housing

Activists in Portland want to end state’s ban on rent control while Bend lawmakers seek to boost rental vacancy rate.

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Housing advocates seek solutions to low vacancy rates and rising rents around the state.

In Portland, activists are seeking an end on the state’s ban on rent control.

Speakers at the Rent Control Town Hall cited racist undertones as one of many problems in the 1985 law secured by an alliance of the Oregon House at the request of the Oregon Multifamily Housing Council, the Oregon State Homebuilders Association, the Oregon Association of Realtors, the Oregon Mobilehome Park Association, the Affiliated Rental Housing Association and the Oregon League of Financial Institutions. reports:

Earlier this month, Zillow published a survey of the cities with the fastest-rising rents. Portland ranked seventh, with a year-over-year gain of 7.0 percent, more than twice the national average. The city’s median rent, the real estate analytics company reported, was $1,587. Zillow noted that, while rental increases are not always worrisome, it’s troubling now that, on average, the cost burden of renting has risen to be about the same as the burden of owning.

“What’s worrisome is that income growth has not kept pace with growth in rents,” the company noted. “Since 2000, rents have grown at roughly twice the pace of wages, and as a result, the share of income necessary to afford typical rents in an area is rising.”

According to Oregonian reporter Mike Francis, event organizer Gerry Mohr called the situation an emergency and said “rent control in the right way would work.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers from Bend introduced a bill Thursday that they say would fix some of the problems the state is having with providing affordable housing.

The Bend Bulletin reports on the problem in Central Oregon:

Deschutes County currently puts nearly five times more into the fund than it gets back for affordable housing projects, while the area has lower wages and higher unemployment than other areas of the state. Three Central Oregon lawmakers are proposing a bill to change the way the money is given out so that counties that pay in more also get more of that money back. The bill highlights one attempt by the area’s legislators to help Bend cope with problems that stem from its rapid growth.

“In a community like Bend where we have a very significant problem, it’s important that those recording fees stay in our community,” said Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, who co-sponsored Senate Bill 516.



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