All across the state, Oregonians are struggling with an increasingly unaffordable housing market. Unsustainable increases in home prices are negatively impacting renters and first-time homebuyers. Over half of Oregon renters are unable to afford rent AND basic needs, such as food, medicine, or daycare. While this squeeze is being felt throughout the United States, Oregon is uniquely positioned as a extreme example of this problem due to the state's housing supply being the lowest supply that is affordable to people at or below poverty levels. This shortage directly ties into a myriad of struggles being faced the Oregon community, including homelessness.
A special story by Oregon Public Broadcasting talks with housing experts and community members impacted by the shortage in its latest article. The experts of the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management (PPPM) took time to weigh in on this complicated problem and were quick to mention that Oregon's housing shortage is a systemic issue.
“It’s a really complex issue, and there are all these different parts," explained Associate Professor in PPPM, Rebecca Lewis, "and pointing the finger at one thing — that’s what makes us lose sight of the overall systematic issues.”
Lewis and other researchers point to national shortages combined with the state’s history of restrictive housing laws and "relaxed" approach to increasing and diversifying housing stock are just a few factors that explain why Oregon is about 140,000 housing units short of meeting public demand. There will not be a quick fix to address the shortage but there are few things that policymakers and the community can do now to alleviate the strain.