housing

missingmiddlehousing.com

Your town may begin to look different in the near future.  A bill that became law in Oregon's recent legislative session changed the zoning of multiple-family homes; they can be built in more places now, including portions of town zoned for single-family homes only. 

The legislature passed the measure, but it's up to local planning departments to enforce the law.  City of Medford Planning Director Matt Brinkley has had some time to research the effects, as has Robin Hostick, who holds the same position in Eugene.

Klamath Housing Authority

Housing is in tight supply over much of Oregon, including east of the Cascades.  Case in point: Klamath Falls, which reports a continued housing crunch as people move into the Basin. 

City Planning Manager Joe Wall is keeping an eye on the situation along with other city leaders, as is Julie Matthews at KCEDA, Klamath County Economic Development Association.

Public Domain

The title of Oregon's new five-year housing plan is aspirational: "Breaking New Ground."  The report is part of a state effort to spur the building of new housing, with an emphasis on housing affordable to people who do not make much money. 

The report shows more than a quarter of Oregon's low-income residents spend more than half their pay on rent.  The report comes from OHCS, the Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services

paulbr75/Pixabay

Housing is already tight in both Oregon and California, and the Camp Fire wiped out nearly 14,000 homes in a single day.  Many decisions remain to be made about the future of Paradise, where most of the homes were lost. 

But there's a ripple effect elsewhere, as people driven out by the fire seek new places to live, either for now or for good.  We talk about the impacts with Steve Bade, who runs the Community Development office in Redding, Ryan Buras, a housing specialist at FEMA, Christina Curry at Cal OES, and Ashland realtor Colin Mullane, who is a past president of the Oregon Association of Realtors

missingmiddlehousing.com

We all know that house prices and rents are skyrocketing. Randy Shaw is a San Francisco-based housing activist who shows that even socially progressive cities are seeing housing costs that are pushing poor and working people out.

Case in point: San Francisco. But for many years, The Bay Area's stratospheric housing costs have increased prices in other markets, like southern Oregon and northern California, as Bay Area residents cash out and move north.

Shaw's new book, Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America, details the process and offers strategies for helping lower income Americans cope with insane housing costs. 

Oregon Lays Out Cash To Build More Homes

Jun 22, 2018
Public Domain

Oregon needs more homes... lots of them.  By one measurement, Medford alone could use more than 4,000 new rental units to make housing more affordable for more people. 

The state of Oregon is acting.  The department of Housing and Community Services just awarded nearly $53 Million to build hundreds of housing units in other parts of the state. 

Margaret Salazar runs OHCS. 

Affordable housing is still out of the grasp of many low-wage workers.  The National Low Income Housing Coalition just put out its annual report, which shows that workers earning minimum wage and working full time can afford housing in just a few counties in the entire country. 

We explore the numbers, the issues, and the solutions raised with Diane Yentel, the CEO of NLIHC. 

We get local input from the Rogue Action Center in the person of Michelle Glass. 

ACCESS, Inc, also contributes, in the person of James Raison. 

Google Street View via ashlandfood.coop

There is a pressing need for affordable housing all around the region, especially in pricey Ashland.  And now there's a possibility that a grocery store could provide some help. 

The Ashland Food Co-op recently announced a deal to buy a parcel of land across the railroad tracks from its current location. 

The parcel is big enough for a bigger store and more parking, but could also have space left over for "workforce housing." 

Public Domain

Only one color is supposed to make a difference in renting or buying a house: green.  As in, if you have enough money, you get the home. 

But evidence of racial discrimination in housing lingers across the country.  This despite the fact that it's been 50 years since Congress passed the Fair Housing Act. 

The Fair Housing Council of Oregon tracks compliance with this and other laws.  The Racial Equity Coalition of Southern Oregon also keeps tabs on the progress. 

Tiia Monto, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32343945

In Western Oregon, it's the story in place after place: too many people for too few houses. 

Low vacancy rates drive up both housing costs and homelessness. 

Josh Lehner in the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis knows the numbers well. 

Wikimedia

Few people can deny the housing crunch felt all over our region.  Low vacancy rates and high rents demonstrate the problem. 

But just HOW can any community spur the construction of new housing for people at all income levels?  That's a question asked out loud by the Housing Advisory Committee in Grants Pass. 

The committee plans a series of public meetings and forums meant to encourage the development of more housing. 

Public Domain

Congress is moving quickly toward votes on changing the country's tax system... some reorganizing and some cutting of rates, especially corporate taxes. 

There are goals in this and any tax plan that go beyond just money... like stimulating certain KINDS of economic activity. 

One kind of activity that could help many communities would be more building of housing for people who don't make much money; the lack of such housing is a factor in homelessness. 

The National Low-Income Housing Coalition has a few ideas on what might help, and the Coos Bay-North Bend Housing Authority is one of many agencies working to get people into cheaper housing. 

Demi, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72127

It's not quite the same thing as the "tiny house" movement, but Ashland is one city stepping into the cottage housing realm. 

As the name implies, the cottages are smaller houses clustered together, designed for more walkable urban environments. 

The high cost of land and housing in the city led to the program, at least in part. 

Library of Congress

It's one of the less pleasant words in our language: eviction. 

Its meaning is worse than the sound: getting removed from the place where you live. 

And Matthew Desmond analyzed how eviction is used and abused in one American city, Milwaukee, in his book Evicted.  The book won a Pulitzer Prize last week. 

Tiia Monto, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32343945

Housing is tight in much of Oregon, and the state legislature is aware of the problem. 

While the current session considers measures like rent control, some state agencies are making moves authorized by previous sessions. 

Case in point: a pilot project to allow two Oregon cities to speed up the process of building affordable housing by fast-tracking expansions of urban growth boundaries. 

The project is administered by the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD). 

missingmiddlehousing.com

The housing shortage is real in several communities around the region. 

Vacancy rates are low, so rents are high, and it can take a long time for people to find suitable housing.  Community leaders are aware of the issue and working to address it. 

One approach: build up the middle of the housing market, the multiple-family homes that are not full-blown apartment complexes.  Urbanist Daniel Parolek calls this the "missing middle." 

We talk housing needs and the economy on a wider scale with Dan Parolek, Guy Tauer of the Oregon Employment Department and Connie Saldaña, an advocate for the homeless for Rogue Valley Council of Governments

In Search Of The Good Life: The Unsettlers

Jan 27, 2017
http://marksundeen.com/

Making life simpler can be complicated. Ditching your smartphone could mean turning your back on work, or turning a blind eye to current events.

But when does all this become less about informing us, and more about making us anxious? With this at heart some people are trying to extract themselves from the parts of the world they're least empowered to change. How and why does one go about "unsettling," and creating a simpler life? A journalist studied this very question.

Housing Problems On House Agenda

Jan 27, 2017
Photos Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

If finding a home to rent has you pulling your hair out, you aren't alone. Oregon has one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in the country.

For those that do find a place, rent costs are high and rising. We unpack housing issues with Speaker of THE House in Oregon, Tina Kotek. Kotek is a Democrat from Portland, where the problems with affordable housing are stark.

VENTSday: Gun Laws + Housing Density

Jun 21, 2016
guernicamag.org

The Senate voted on additional gun restrictions this week (June 20).  Four votes, four rejections. 

Now you get to think like a senator: would additional gun laws help stop mass shootings?  What would you restrict? 

Our alternate topic this week is infill: how you feel about more density in housing, like apartments, next to your single-family home. 

VENTSday removes the guests and puts listener comments front and center on The Exchange. Once a week, it's all about you... we plop a pair of topics on the table, post a survey on our Facebook page, and open the phone lines and email box for live comments.

The topics can range from presidential politics to how you spend your days off.

The Attraction Of Building Tiny Houses

Apr 25, 2016
Zoey/http://www.livetiny365.com/

Did McMansions cause a backlash, or what?  Just a few years after small families bought extra-large houses to fit people and stuff, the real estate market crashed. 

That's not the only reason tiny houses appear to be catching on; they've been out there for a while now. 

And there is something charming about the idea of a small and simple and even portable life. 

Andrew Duncan designs and builds tiny houses at Southern Oregon Tiny Homes and Andrew Morrison does the same at Tiny House Build

Pages