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In this restrictive rental market, we are working to counteract the effects of displacement so communities of color and others traditionally left behind by the market to have equitable access to desirable neighborhoods and housing stability.
We continue to contend with one of the tightest rental markets in the county and a region that keeps growing. The U.S. Census Bureau places Portland’s rental housing vacancy rate at 3.4%. National studies indicate a growing demand for both rentals and homes for sale.
According to “America's Rental Housing: Evolving Markets and Needs,” a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University released in mid-December, for half of U.S. renters, the rent burden has increased beyond a third of a household’s income. This leaves families in the position to make difficult choices between keeping the lights on, keeping food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads.
Other factors, such as a slow economic recovery and low wages, have increased the demand for more affordable homes.
This trend is confirmed locally, where the number of development permits has skyrocketed over the past six months and home values and mortgage rates continue to rise. The Oregon Housing Alliance reports that the recession has left our neighbors in Multnomah County at risk of foreclosure and homelessness.
PHB knows there is a need for more affordable homes in desirable neighborhoods throughout our city. We are working to ensure that a recovering economy creates opportunity for everyone, including communities of color and other people traditionally left behind by the market. We are investing in changing neighborhoods with great opportunities that are at risk of gentrifying. We have developed the Portland Housing Growth and Opportunity Analysis, a locational framework that guides our investments. That way, residents can continue to live in places with access to vibrant cultural resources, great schools, fresh food, living wage jobs and excellent public transit.
We are working with our community partners to connect first-time homebuyers with property tax exemptions and downpayment assistance that help households with lower incomes access the stabilizing effects of homeownership. We can create more first-time homeowners and housing stability among renters by preserving the affordable homes that already exist and developing more homes affordable to people earning low incomes.