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Coos Bay to hold public hearing after designation as severely rent burdened

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Over a quarter of residents in Coos Bay spend more than half of their incomes on rent.

Coos Bay recently received the designation from the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department. More than a quarter of its residents spend over 50% of their income on rent.

Nichole Rutherford, assistant city manager of Coos Bay, said the city is now required by the state to hold an annual public meeting to discuss rental challenges in the community.

"So I expect that it's going to be a lot more listening and learning. We also will want to hear about other people's experiences and what they've done and what they see can still be done," she said.

Oregon Housing and Community Services Department
2016-2020 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B25070 and PSU Certified Population Estimates as of July 1, 2021.
25 Oregon cities received the designation of severely rent burdened.

She said stakeholders who provide housing services have been invited to the meeting and also encouraged residents to attend, especially if they’re spending over half of their income on housing.

"That would be our first thing is bringing the people to the table who are working in this kind of area. What are you doing? How can we work better together? How can we make this help more people?" she said.

The hearing will be held Tuesday, December 6, at 7 p.m.

Rent has long been a burden in Coos Bay, like in many Oregon cities. 25 cities in Oregon also received the severely rent burdened designation, including Klamath Falls, Grants Pass, and Ashland, which held its own public hearing about the issue in August.

Since 2008, the city has been trying to work on the problem, through code changes and grants. Rutherford said she hopes this hearing will spark new discussions and ideas for potential solutions.

Jane Vaughan is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. Jane began her journalism career as a reporter for a community newspaper in Portland, Maine. She's been a producer at New Hampshire Public Radio and worked on WNYC's On The Media.