My View: Housing crunch requires regional solution
Our region provides an amazing quality of life for so many who live here. But the growing pains in our communities are very real. People are struggling with housing costs. It's an increasing refrain we've heard from those who live in our cities.
When you look at the facts, it's not surprising. The average fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the metro area today is $1,330. A working family of four would need to earn more than $53,000 — or $25.48 an hour — to afford that apartment, and have enough left over for basics like food, utilities and medicine. That's more than twice the minimum wage.
There are not enough homes that are affordable for people who live and work in our region, especially those earning close to minimum wage. As mayors in the Portland metro area, we hear from a lot of families that are worried for the first time about losing their home, or know they may be one missed paycheck or one more rent hike away from losing the roof over their heads.
With housing prices continuing to rise, we are at risk of losing what makes our cities strong. Nurses, first responders, teachers, office workers, trades people and others are pushed to the margins, no longer able to afford to live in their neighborhood. Instead of living near their workplace, people are forced into longer commutes, crowding our transportation system. That means rising costs for roads and transit, not to mention the extra hours for those of us commuting in cars, buses and trains.
The experience is shared by people in all of our communities. As mayors in our region, we know we must act.
That's why we're united in support of Measure 26-199, the regional affordable housing bond.
This regional bond can provide affordable housing for about 12,000 people by creating 3,900 affordable homes if Measure 102 — a statewide measure that has no formal opposition — also is approved.
Voting Yes on Measure 26-199 will create permanent and affordable homes for people who live and work in our community today, and it will help tens of thousands over time because the homes will be permanently affordable. This is the right and necessary step to take now to ensure our communities are safe and accessible for all.
It's vital that our precious tax dollars are used efficiently and thoughtfully. Measure 26-199 includes local control, with experienced local housing authorities and jurisdictions like ours working in partnership with Metro to implement the bond and tailor solutions to meet local needs. Resources will be divided in proportion to total assessed value within each county. The measure also requires community oversight, and annual audits.
The affordable housing crisis is one of the biggest problems in our communities. It's not often that we have the opportunity to help solve one of our biggest problems for just $5 a month, the bond's cost to the average homeowner. Voters have the power to give local governments a powerful tool to help address our housing crisis, and get more of our community members into a stable, affordable home. Please vote yes on Measure 26-199.
This column was signed by the following mayors: Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler; Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle; Durham Mayor Gery Schirado; Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax; Gladstone Mayor Tammy Stempel; Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba; Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp; and West Linn Mayor Russell Axelrod.