Sponsored by Oregon Business

Data dig: Is Oregon's housing affordable?

| Print |  Email
Articles - May 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
According to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Out of Reach 2012, America’s Forgotten Housing Crisis, a full-time worker in Oregon needs a “housing wage” of $13.01 per hour in order to afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent (calculated by HUD at 40th percentile market rents). The average wage in Oregon of a full-time worker is $12.59 per hour. The biggest affordability gap in the state is in Columbia County where the average wage is $8.26 and the housing wage is $14.83. Portland has a small affordability gap because it has more multifamily housing and better-paying jobs; its housing wage also is $14.83 and its average wage is $14.33.

Van Vliet says persistent unemployment and underemployment have been most responsible for the inability of Oregonians to afford rents, as well as contributing to foreclosures. Hiring is slowly improving, though most of the new jobs are in the Portland metro area “so the recovery is going to be lopsided, and that’s going to put rural communities further behind,” she says. The five counties still suffering seasonally adjusted unemployment in excess of 12% in February were all rural: Crook, Grant, Harney, Jefferson and Lake. The statewide rate was 8.8%.

Within the state’s urban areas, Bend and Medford stand out as the least affordable housing markets, though both may be improving. In 2010, 48% of mortgage holders and more than 64% of renters in the two fast-growing metros were housing burdened. Since 2006 the burden hadn't changed for homeowners, but renters’ burdens grew 22% in Bend and 12% in Medford. Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s All-Transactions Home Price Index, an indicator of single-family home prices and refinance appraisals, dropped 40% for Bend and 30% for Medford.

Bend also witnessed the most dramatic surge of another indicator of unaffordable homes: foreclosures. In Deschutes County, notices of homeowner default shot up from 45 in 2007 to 314 in 2010. John Helmick, CEO of Eugene-based Gorilla Capital, which buys, remodels and resells foreclosed homes, says that after peaking in 2010, this indicator is finally brightening in 2011: “Throughout all the 20 Oregon counties in which we track the data, we saw an average of 25% decline in the number of new foreclosures being filed, and we see that same decline continuing in 2012.”

Jaynee Beck, a realtor with Duke Warner Realty in Bend and president of the Central Oregon Association of Realtors, also has reason for cautious optimism on the ability of new buyers to afford a home. “Our market has really done a big correction,” she says, “and it’s brought a lot of the buyers back to our market that were priced out of it in the boom.” That includes many locals who grew up and worked in Bend but had to commute 45 minutes away to find affordable housing when the minimum price in Bend was about $300,00.

“Now we actually have homes under $100,000,” says Beck, “so those people can come back to Bend.

Brandon Sawyer is research editor for Oregon Business. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


More Articles

Living the dream

Friday, August 21, 2015

smugglespearsthumbRenee Spears, founder and owner of Portland-based Rose City Mortgage, is hot to trot to sell pot.


The List: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Oregon Business magazine’s seventh annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For project attracted more than 150 nonprofits from around the state from a variety of sectors, including social services and environmental advocacy.  More than 5,000 employees and volunteers filled out the survey, rating their satisfaction with work environment, mission and goals, career development and learning, benefits and compensation, and management and communications.


Back to School

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Oregon is home to an abundance of gritty warehouses reborn as trendy office spaces, as well as crafty hipsters turned entrepreneurs. Does the combination yield an equally bounteous office products sector? Not so much. Occupying the limited desk jockey space are Field Notes, a spinoff of Portland’s Draplin Design Company, and Schuttenworks, known for whittling Apple device stands. For a full complement of keyboard trays, docking stations and mouse pads, check out the GroveMade line, guaranteed to boost the cachet of even the lowliest cubicle drone. 


Downtime with Patrick Criteser

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Live, Work Play with the President and CEO of Tillamook County Creamery Association.


Adjusting to the New Economy

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

A conversation with Jonathan Bennett, managing partner at law firm Dunn Carney Allen Higgins & Tongue.


5 takeaways from the rural Oregon economic report

The Latest
Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis released a report on the vitality of rural Oregon this week.  Media reports focused on the number of Californians moving to the "Timber Belt," but the document contained other interesting insights regarding regional challenges and successes.


Mayoral musings

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
091515-mayors-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be the year of the outsider, with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump capturing leads in the polls and the headlines. In Portland, Wheeler vs. Hales is bucking the outlier trend.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02