Many Oregon Cities Still Struggle With Severe Rent Burden

Mar 27, 2019

Many Oregonians continue to struggle to make rent, according to data the state released this month.

Thirty Oregon cities are severely rent burdened, which means more than a quarter of their renters put more than half their income toward housing. The number of severely rent-burdened cities in Oregon hasn’t changed since last year’s count.

Still, the number of individual households that are severely burdened by rent has slightly decreased from last year. Ariel Nelson with Oregon Housing and Community Services says the factors playing into those numbers are complex.

“We do know that minimum wage has been increasing a little bit and unemployment decreased,” Nelson said. “But I don't think we could draw a direct conclusion from these slight changes.”

Lawmakers passed a law last year requiring Oregon Housing and Community Services to analyze 5-year census estimates to identify burdened cities.

Kim Travis with housing services says the law brings light to the issue.

“Many people aren’t aware their neighbors are paying 50 percent of their income toward housing,” Davis said. “At that very basic level, it’s an opportunity to share that information about this important issue that is impacting neighbors in these communities.”  

The law also requires burdened cities to complete a state-mandated questionnaire and host a public hearing by the end of the year. Nelson says the hearing helps cities discuss potential housing instability solutions with community members.

Southern Oregon cities with a significant number of severely rent-burdened households include Ashland (34 percent), Medford (31 percent), Grants Pass (34 percent), Klamath Falls (30 percent), Eugene (38 percent), Roseburg (29 percent) and Coos Bay (26 percent).