Reports + Articles


New Report Shows Oregon Lagging in Housing Available for People with the Lowest Incomes

A new issue of Housing Spotlight from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) reports that Oregon ranks near the bottom of all states in rental housing available for people with the lowest incomes. The research brief uses data from the most recent American Community Survey (ACS) to examine the supply of rental housing units for households in a three different income categories, including extremely low income, defined as no more than 30% of the area median income. According to the report, Oregon has only 22 rental housing units affordable and available per 100 households with extremely low income, which ranks 46th out of 50. Consequently, 81% of Oregon households with extremely low incomes qualify as severely rent burdened, defined as paying more than 50% of their income toward rent and utilities, which also ranks 46th out of 50. Click here for the NLIHC report.

A unit qualifies as affordable if the rent and utility costs don’t exceed 30% of the household income, which is the generally accepted norm for affordability. A unit counts as available only if it is vacant or already houses a household at that income level, as many units affordable to a given income category are occupied with households in a higher income category.

The data for the report underscores the importance of current Preservation efforts in Oregon. The existence of project-based rental assistance at a property means that residents pay 30% of their income toward rent, with the federal government subsidizing the remainder, up to a fair market level. Most units with project-based rental assistance in Oregon are home to households with extremely low incomes, and in many communities that is the only housing affordable to those households. Unfortunately no housing production programs with current funding exclusively serve this population, so we see few new affordable and available units and steadily lose some current units due to contract opt-outs and terminations. At the same time, the number of renter households with extremely low income continues to increase, which it did by 200,000 nationally between 2009 and 2010, so the demand for existing units rises.

— Posted on 2/15/2012