New report on high rents costs shows housing remains “Out of Reach” for Oregonians

Latest report shows the impossible housing bind for Oregon’s low-income renters.

Across Oregon, people who rent their homes continue to struggle in the face of rents that are completely out of line with wages. According to a report released today from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, it takes a wage of $21.26 to afford a average two-bedroom apartment in Oregon. In the Portland metro area, costs are significantly higher and a family would need an hourly wage of at least $25.58. The report also shows that affording a smaller apartment is equally out of reach: a one-bedroom apartment requires the equivalent of 65 hours a week minimum wage work. The full report and a breakdown of Oregon data is available at nlihc.org/oor.

“This report shows that without meaningful action by state lawmakers, Oregonians living on low incomes do not stand a chance in Oregon’s housing market. Too many people are having to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table,” says Alison McIntosh of the Oregon Housing Alliance. “All Oregonians need a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home, and that’s going to take meaningful tenant protections in 2019.”

The Out of Reach report is important in illustrating housing insecurity and lack of affordability because it focuses on the Housing Wage, which measures how much someone needs to earn to afford housing and other basic necessities such as food, health care, and medicine.

In Marion County, the wage necessary to afford housing is $12.85, nearly 20% higher than the minimum wage, and in Deschutes County it is $15.50, or 44% higher than the minimum wage.

“In 2019, people who rent their homes will again ask the Oregon Legislature for protection against ever increasing rents, along with unfair evictions,” says McIntosh. “We cannot go another year where displacement keeps driving up homelessness for our kids and families. We need to protect people who rent their homes now.”

Robin Pooley of Milwaukie says that even with her partner’s income they don’t come close to earning the $34.77 housing wage for a three-bedroom home for her family of six. She has been searching for months to find a new home in her children’s school district after the lease ended on their prior home.

“Rent has simply become unaffordable for families like mine,” says Pooley. “People shouldn’t have to move hours away from their schools in order to find a home they can afford.”

Last year, the Oregon Department of Education counted over 22,500 kids experiencing homelessness at some point during the school year.

In 2019, the Stable Homes for Oregon Families coalition will call on the Oregon legislature to act to protect people who rent their homes. The Coalition will propose a ban on unfair, no cause evictions, as well as other protections for tenants. In 2017, the Legislature failed to pass HB 2004, leaving tenants to fend for themselves while the average hourly wage needed to afford an average apartment continued to rise.

About Stable Homes for Oregon Families

Stable Homes for Oregon Families is a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals with a shared goal of creating housing stability, fairness, and predictability for Oregon families. Members of the Stable Homes for Oregon Families coalition include the Community Alliance of Tenants, SEIU Local 49, SEIU Local 503, Urban League, Oregon AFL-CIO, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, APANO, Oregon Housing Alliance, Oregon Opportunity Network, Unite Oregon, and Fair Shot for All.

To learn more about Stable Homes for Oregon Families, visit www.stablehomesor.org

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