Corvallis Financial Surprises Outlined by HUD: Like Everything Else… Blame the University

The Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) was launched in 1965 as part of President Johnson’s Great Society program.  The idea was to have some sort of centralized planning and development regarding the massive expansion of urban populations. With an almost 50 billion dollar annual budget, HUD’s numbers can play a huge part in urban and rural planning across the country.

hudLet’s take a look at some of the projected numbers for fiscal year 2013(October 1, 2012-2013) and see what they portend for Benton County:

The estimated median family income (MFI) nationwide is $64,400

In Oregon, estimated MFI is $60,200

MFI in rural areas of Oregon is  $51,300 vs. $63,900 in urban areas

The median income for Corvallis, used to deduce how much, if any, government assistance a household is eligible for in their home buying, for 2012 for a family of four was $80,800.  The threshold for “low income” for a family of four was $62,300.  These numbers are quite surprising, considering the most recent US census numbers. Those numbers tell us that Corvallis lags behind the rest of Oregon in most financial categories.

People living below the poverty line from 2007-2011, was 21% of the total population in Benton County. This is much higher than the greater Oregon level of 14%.  These numbers are surely weighted by the high number of students in the area, but still must be taken as a primary concern.

Meanwhile, the job market in Corvallis continues to be stagnant, and we rank behind the rest of the state (on average) in nearly every category,. Every category besides home values, which remain nearly $20,000 higher than the statewide average.

Cities like Corvallis face greater challenges than most urban areas, with a broad mix of rural and suburban living. Our population is younger than most cities in Oregon, but we also export a massive portion of that talent to Portland, Seattle and San Francisco.  This creates a distorted spread of incomes, home values and job opportunities – something reflected in the numbers.

The outlook for fiscal 2014 is not “bleak,” per se, but it does suggest home values will continue to increase, while median income stays flat. There may be no cure for these trends, but keeping an eye on the numbers can help warn us of impending demographic disasters.

By Ygal Kaufman