The separation of wealth across this nation has been growing for years and Central Oregon is not immune to this. An enormous influx of people from out of town purchasing homes at top dollar continues to drive sale prices higher and higher, demonstrating the simple law of supply and demand. The critical factor to recognize is that when home prices escalate, the cost of homes at the lowest price points are increasing at a similar rate. Without new affordable homes being built to meet demand, the lower-priced homes become out of reach for many locals.
- AlexanderStein, Pixabay
According to Habitat for Humanity, when there's a lack of affordable housing in a community, the issues that arise include higher rents, substandard housing, rising crime rates, adverse mental and physical health effects, poor academic performance, racial segregation and developmental delays in children. On the flip side, there are many positive reasons why attainable low-cost housing is important, beyond bettering a person's mental and physical well-being. Affordable housing promotes diversity, by appealing to people of all backgrounds. The Center for American Progress reports that communities that provide housing options create jobs both short and long term, while also attracting businesses that are drawn to quality employees with stable housing.
When individuals aren't simply focused on survival, paying the electric bill and putting enough food on the table, they're able to exert energy toward thriving and living their best life. If housing is affordable, people can spend more energy and resources on healthcare, nutrition, education, daycare, transportation and other important products and services. In 2013, Habitat for Humanity completed a three-year study of the adverse effects of the lack of affordable housing and reported that when families lived in poor quality housing, parents experienced more psychological stress, and children showed elevated levels of emotional problems, including symptoms of depression and anxiety, and elevated behavior problems, like aggression, lying and deceitfulness.
Every growing city must concentrate efforts on creating affordable options and solutions to the problem. A house is not just four walls and a roof; it's a place that provides shelter while nurturing and protecting its occupants, where one can feel safe and can depend on sanctity—a place where loved ones gather and memories are made. Home ownership has an incredible influence on an individual's personal development and the future of youth. The lack of affordable housing is posing issues for a significant population of Bend's current residents and has become a deterrent for some families trying to move here. If Central Oregon is to remain a healthy, growing city and highly desirable destination, there must be attainable affordable housing options for all who choose to live here.