Oregon’s Housing Shortage Will Need Money, Policy Changes, and Attitude Shifts

July 27, 2023

The housing market in Oregon has become increasingly unaffordable, with limited rental vacancies and high prices, leading to more people experiencing homelessness. Oregon ranks fourth in underproducing housing in the United States. The state’s history of restrictive housing laws, single-family zoning policies, and lack of diversification in housing stock are key factors contributing to the problem.

Oregon lawmakers have recently taken steps to address the housing crisis. In 2019, Oregon eliminated most exclusive single-family zoning statewide and required cities to develop strategies for increasing housing production. In 2022, the state—along with ECONorthwest—published the Oregon Housing Needs Analysis, which called for building 555,000 more housing units over the next 20 years. In response, the government approved a $200 million package to help cities address the crisis, providing funding for affordable housing and streamlining urban growth boundary expansion.

However, experts including our president, Lorelei Juntunen, warn that it may take years or even decades to see significant results from these policies. To make affordable housing more accessible, significant investments in publicly supported affordable housing are needed, as private sector construction is rarely affordable for those with low incomes. Homeowners can also help by building accessory dwelling units or renting out spare bedrooms. Addressing the housing crisis will require both policy changes and a shift in societal attitudes towards housing and community living.

Read the full OPB article here.