Rents rise despite high unemployment, foreclosures and downed economy

by Alison McIntosh, Contributing Writer

Higher prices in the rental market continue to force Oregon families to choose between paying rent, putting food on the table, and paying utility bills.  A national study reports that the cost of renting an apartment in Oregon has increased again, an alarming trend for a state with unemployment at 10%.

“The on-going recession, high unemployment and continued wave of foreclosures in Oregon continues to make it more difficult for hard working Oregonians to find a safe, decent and affordable place to call home,” said Janet Byrd, Chair of the Housing Alliance, “In Oregon, we believe everyone needs a place to call home. As we work together to solve the current budget crisis, the Legislature needs to prioritize providing basic needs to those most impacted by the ongoing recession.”

According to the report released today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), the average rent and the income required to afford those rents continue to rise despite high unemployment and foreclosures. As rents continue to increase, more and more Oregon families find themselves homeless for the first time.

“Every year it is becoming more difficult for hard working Oregonians to find decent homes they can afford,” said Suzanne Washington, Deputy Director of Impact Northwest. “This year, someone making minimum wage in the Portland metro would have to work nearly twelve hours a day, seven days a week just to be able to afford a place to call home.”

“Hardworking people should be able to afford housing and still have enough money for groceries and other basic necessities,” said Janet Byrd.  “Too many families in the Portland metro area can’t afford a safe, stable place to call home.   We’re calling on the State Legislature to provide support for affordable housing and emergency rent assistance to help protect families and children affected by the recession.”

The report, Out of Reach 2010, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a Washington, DC-based housing advocacy group, and Oregon’s Housing Alliance. The report provides data for every state, metropolitan area and county in the country. The report also defines a housing wage, which for Oregon is $15.81, nearly double Oregon’s minimum wage. The Housing Wage is the hourly wage a family must earn—working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year—to be able to afford rent and utilities in the private housing market. The average fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Oregon is $822 —a number that has increased 35% since 2000.
This year, Oregon is the twenty-ninth most expensive state in the nation for renters. The National Housing Wage is $18.46 in 2011.

For additional information, visit http://www.nlihc.org/oor/oor2011/.

The Housing Alliance brings together advocates, local governments, housing authorities, community development corporations, environmentalists, service providers, business interests and all others dedicated to increasing the resources available to meet our housing needs to support a common statewide legislative and policy agenda.

Alison McIntosh is a Policy Manager with Neighborhood Partnerships.

4 responses to “Rents rise despite high unemployment, foreclosures and downed economy

  1. One important factor that contributes to this phenomenon is the desirability of rental real estate as an investment property when stocks and mutual funds become volatile due to recession and economic uncertainties. The only solution to make housing truly affordable, then, is to remove all incentives for speculators to invest in residential real estate through heavy taxation and stringent and even prohibitive regulations. Unfortunately in the State of Oregon there is no state-level regulatory agency to control residential rentals (aside from a bare minimum authority to license apartment managers through the Oregon Real Estate Agency) and only regulatory power rests in the statutes and the courts. The state law further prohibits county and city from enacting any form of rent control. As far as the landlords are concerned, Oregon is a haven for a robber-baron mentality.

  2. We have to think outside the box for our own solutions. I am a great proponent of communal living: sharing homes or apartments so that expenses for everyone are less. This isn’t just for college students anymore. Families with children, older people, everyone can benefit from a good arrangement with compatible housemates. It creates a sense of extended family, everyone contributes what they are good at, and people work together to create a home for much less money per person than an individual household. I truly believe it is the way of the future.

  3. Pingback: Out of Reach: Read All About It | On the Home Front

  4. Pingback: Homelessness increases dramatically throughout State of Oregon | For those who can’t afford free speech

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