Friday, July 28, 2006


Bend, Oregon, Prices Itself Beyond Workers Ability To Pay

Central Oregon, where I live, is a beautiful place. We live in Bend and we rent. We moved here six and a half years ago and couldn’t afford to buy a house. We really can’t afford to buy one now!

Bend has managed, through skillful self-promotion and unregulated development, apparently, to price itself silly. The market, free as the wind, has exploded with multi-thousand square foot mcmansions. An attempt at zoning for smaller homes on smaller lots ended up with big homes on small lots. The realtors and developers—we used to call them “sub-dividers” but there’s a new, more...benign term—are happy as clams. We even have half-million dollar town-houses now. L.A. prices.

The city is in hock to the developers, because the city is, surprise!, broke. Service charges don't cover the services demanded by new developments. More streets to plow in the winter, more schools for kids, more street repaid, more streets have to be widened to handle the traffic, and so on. But the developers kick in just enough goodies, like co-sponsoring concerts in the parks and crafts markets and drinking events that nobody wants to offend them. The developers are kind of like your friendly and rather generous neighborhood heroin dealers...

High housing costs discourage even white collar buyers
7/28/2006, 12:14 a.m. PT
The Associated Press

BEND, Ore. (AP) — High home prices in Central Oregon are making it difficult for businesses to fill white collar jobs despite the booming economy, according to a new report.

A survey of 118 local employers showed that 23 percent indicated that upper management job-seekers are having "major to moderate" difficulty locating housing in the region.

"We rely on hiring really good people to keep us competitive and innovative, but we're finding ourselves challenged by the housing question," Patricia Moss, CEO of Bank of the Cascades, said in a statement released with the survey.

"In a beautiful, safe, dynamic place like Central Oregon, people from all over the country want to live and work here, but the cost and availability of housing becomes a barrier," Moss said.

Partly due to rapidly rising housing costs, business owners who have been considering a move to Central Oregon for several years are beginning to recalculate their decisions as median housing prices have spiked beyond $340,000 in Bend, and beyond $255,000 in Redmond, said Roger Lee, executive director of Economic Development for Central Oregon, or EDCO.

"We have definitely lost some leads," Lee said. "I would say, if you add them up there are probably at least 1,000 jobs in companies that are not considering us anymore."

Facing a similar explosion in industrial land prices, particularly in Bend, most of EDCO's current recruitment efforts are focused on enticing new businesses to less-expensive La Pine, Madras and Prineville, Lee said.

Redmond is still on the recruitment map, he said. Bend has largely fallen off.

The 76-page report was coordinated by Housing Works, formerly known as the Central Oregon Regional Housing Authority, which runs several programs devoted to creating affordable housing in the Jefferson, Crook and Deschutes counties region.

Among the findings were:

• An estimated 5,200 jobs are going unfilled in Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties, "due in part to the housing affordability crunch."

• Labor shortages exist for workers in a broad array of fields, including shortages of accountants, skilled technicians, engineers, entry-level production employees and skilled construction workers.

• Housing prices in much of the region have climbed beyond a typical middle-income family's ability to afford them. In Crook and Deschutes counties, 92 percent of residential real estate listings are priced above what is considered affordable for households earning 120 percent of the area's median income.

"Affordable" is defined as needing to spend no more than 30 percent of gross income on housing. The median household income in Deschutes County in 2003 was $44,111, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In Crook, it was $35,903.

Except in Jefferson County, the median Central Oregon home price is more than double the amount considered affordable for people earning the average income.

With 10,400 new jobs expected to be added to Central Oregon's economy over the next three years, the area is expected to need to add 6,600 additional "work force housing units" to make room.

"Work force housing" is defined as housing occupied by people who are employed here, as opposed to retiree housing or vacation homes.

The city of Redmond is proposing to add roughly 2,200 acres to its boundaries this year to accommodate residential, commercial and industrial growth. Bend hasn't finished its formal expansion plans yet, but city planners have said they plan to propose adding 3,000 to 4,000 more acres to the city's urban growth boundary over the next couple of years just for residential housing.

The report was produced by Colorado consultant Melanie Rees. It was sponsored by the Bank of the Cascades, South Valley Bank & Trust, Umpqua Bank, U.S. Bank, the cities of Prineville and Madras, and Central Oregon Partnership.


Information from: The Bulletin,

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?