Oregon’s Housing Crisis: Families Lost in the Rental Trap

homeless_familyAs Corvallis and Oregon as a whole develop and grow, there is one group that is getting lost in the mix: families. Family benefits, such as rental subsidies, have been shuffled down the priority list in Oregon agencies, creating a rise in homelessness, food insecurity, and unstable rent subsidies throughout the state.

The Secretary of State’s office recently conducted an audit which revealed that poor communication problems and a lack of housing data have placed affordable housing at high risk. The mismanaged data through the Oregon Housing and Community Services agency shows a deficiency in reliability for Oregon’s Affordable Housing inventory. Because of this, federal rent subsidies, which establish affordable housing, have become unsound. The result is that Oregon families are being forced to spend more on rent, which leads to increased food insecurity—a problem that is also on the rise.
According to a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report, Oregon has the highest percentage in the country of homeless families with children living in cars and on the streets. Oregon’s homelessness in regard to families with children has risen 2.5% from last year, making Oregon the fifth highest for this statistic in the nation. This begs the question: why is this happening? Between rent subsidies being fumbled around by Oregon agencies and rent costs rising, Oregon families are being cast aside. While Corvallis wasn’t the first Oregon town to show these signs, it has now begun to take quite a hit as well.
Benton County Community Development Director Paul Bilotta explained at the Housing Opportunity Action Council meeting on Dec. 7 that there is a finite amount of land for multi-family housing.
“There are more challenges with affordable houses as less land is available,” Bilotta said.
Something to make note of is that Oregon State University’s student population has increased by 14,000. In an effort to expand housing options, Corvallis added 1,000 beds (a measure of housing), almost all of which went to students due to the enrollment expansion. This left Corvallis families without extra housing options.
While this is just one example of how the situation is ebbing and flowing, there are many more that show a much larger issue that must be addressed before Oregon families suffer even more collateral damage.
By Jamie Anunsolo