Deschutes County home BuildingBy Jason Boone

Affordable housing, or supposed lack thereof, has been a much-discussed subject around Oregon. And Bend has not been immune, with a historically tight rental market, rising rents and a median home price that at last count sat at $321,500.

Such market pressures have created a need for affordable housing, and understandably sparked a debate on the right and wrong ways to introduce affordable housing into a given market.

The politics of affordable housing have certainly hit Salem, too. Earlier this year, the Oregon House passed a bill that would have struck down the state’s anti-inclusionary zoning law, which since it passed in 1999 has prevented local governments from requiring developers to include affordable housing in large projects. That House bill died in the Oregon Senate in July.

Inclusionary zones have been problematic in many jurisdictions where they are allowed, placing the burden of affordable housing solely on developers, proving to be costly to governments in implementing, and often doing little to slow the rise in market prices. Where inclusionary zones do work, “it’s done through incentives, not mandates,” argues Jon Chandler, CEO and lobbyist for the Oregon Home Builders Association.

Regardless, it is a safe bet that inclusionary zones will continue to be a topic in the statehouse.

Locally, there has been plenty done, too. Just last week, the Bend City Council recently upped its affordable housing fee, which is the charge the city levies to all new developments to help fund loans for projects to create more affordable housing.

And new projects are being introduced. That includes a new 64-unit affordable housing project in northeast Bend was announced, and the state awarded three Bend housing projects $3.8 million in grants that will all add to the city’s affordable housing inventory. Of course, such housing typically springs controversy.

But what are the real effects of affordable housing projects on particular neighborhoods? The Stanford University Graduate School of Business recently completed a study on the topic. In part, researchers say that affordable housing developments can be effective in certain circumstances.

The study also found two general effects:

  • When affordable housing projects are introduced into low-income neighborhoods, home values appreciated some 6.5 percent within a tenth of a mile of the project, diversity increased and crime rates on the whole fell.
  • When affordable housing projects were introduced into higher-income neighborhoods, housing prices declined 2.5 percent within a tenth of a mile and the diversity of the neighborhood decreased. Crime rates were unchanged.

In the end, we’ll leave the public policy to the experts. But the more information a buyer or seller has about the neighborhood, the more prudence a decision they will make. I can help guide you through the process.

To learn more about the Bend market, get started with listing your Bend home, or to view area homes contact me call (541) 383-1426, or visit Bend Property Search to connect with me through my website.