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Central Oregon's Housing Crisis

Innovative solutions on the rise

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It's no secret that housing prices continue to rise. In April we saw record highs set for a single-family home in Bend and Redmond, with the rest of the high desert following closely behind. This is great for current homeowners and isn't deterring the crowds from seeking out Central Oregon as their permanent destination. Most of us have moved here from somewhere else, so we get it, right? Who can pass up the pristine surroundings, outdoor adventure within daily reach and friendly, flourishing communities?

MAX PIXEL
  • Max Pixel

We moved here over 20 years ago and have watched the open fields and old buildings transform into an urban landscape. Some of the change has been well received, while some isn't so welcome. One shift that's been difficult to overcome is the cost-of-living index, which has skyrocketed. It's relatively easy to move here and buy a home if you come with money and can use that wealth to meet your Bend lifestyle goals. But why is it that for the bulk of the population—the necessary workforce and hard-working wage earners—homeownership is out of reach? We believe everyone should be able to build equity and use their wealth as a tool to obtain their goals—and others think so, too.

Every month the Bend Chamber of Commerce holds its "What's Brewing" event, highlighting community topics. We had the pleasure of attending May's session titled "Real-Time Solutions for the Housing Crisis." This meetup was more than acknowledging the issue; we also heard about solutions that are underway right now. The night was hosted by Bend Chamber CEO Katy Brooks and City of Bend Economic Development Director Carolyn Eagan, and featured four panel members.

Speaker Stan Amy is the Director of North Star Civic Foundation, which focuses on concrete projects that can articulate solutions at the scale of the problems communities face. Their focus points included a New Deal in Housing and building tenant wealth, exploring ways to increase asset building through homeownership. Speaker Michael Parkhurst is the program officer for the housing opportunities team at Meyer Memorial Trust, who offered details on how his organization helps Oregonians gain access to safe, stable and affordable housing. Speaker Patrick Quinton is the co-founder and CEO of Dweller, a private developer of prefab accessory dwelling units in Portland. Dweller builds and installs ADUs in a low cost, efficient manner to allow homeowners to benefit from this source of extra income—also providing desperately needed housing. Speaker Geoff Harris, regional director at Hayden Homes, discussed Hayden Homes' Simplicity cottage-style homes, a smaller, more economical home option and also their Wise Size homes, with floor plans from 400 to about 1,200 square feet.

All four speakers were tackling the housing crisis from various angles, but they're all working in an effort to provide tangible solutions—which was a refreshing change from just discussing the problem.

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