s reported in the Source's news story last week, "The Missing Jigsaw Piece," the Bend 2030 Collaborative Housing Group presented its report to the Bend City Council July 19. The group issued policy recommendations to encourage affordable housing in Bend to households making between 80 and 175 per cent of area median income, defined as households earning $40,000 to $90,000 per year. Housing affordability and ability to own a home have been important sources of wealth to households, and many of the same concerns cited in this report correspond with a recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) study.
The Bend report identifies problems with affordable housing and offers some solutions. It's a concise, but well-stated report of issues relevant to all parties in the housing industry, from developers, city planners and consumers, and offers thoughtful recommendations which can be reviewed at bend2030.org.
We all are aware that home prices and rents have increased at a far higher pace than wages, and land prices have also skyrocketed. The fuel behind the high housing costs is increased demand, population growth and lack of available reasonably priced land. Typically, the solution to meeting the demand for affordable housing, particularly starter level homes, would be to build more affordable units that would be smaller in size, but this does not pencil out for developers when land prices are too high. The other side of the coin is getting land available and getting infrastructure in place and paying for it, even though the UGB is expanded.A
recent NAR Housing Pulse survey shows that a majority of Americans (84 percent) believe home ownership to be a solid financial decision. The nationwide survey found that the main reasons people gave for home ownership were building equity and preparing for retirement. Sixty percent of respondents cited concerns about their ability to buy or rent a home and 44 percent categorize the lack of affordable housing as a problem. The demand is there, but the ability to own a home has been severely hampered by affordability and supply issues not only here in Bend, but nationally. It's encouraging that our local government and citizens are hard at work on finding solutions.