Workforce and Affordable Housing

Qualified workers are critical to Bend’s economy, but they can’t afford to live here.  For years the city council has ignored successful programs in other cities around the country.

Bend’s Area Median Income (AMI) is $68,000.  Our teachers, police officers, fire fighters, and city employees earn between $50,000 and $80,000 per year.  Younger people, often service providers, earn much less.

Bend’s median home price is $760,000.   A household’s total housing payments should be no more than 30% of its gross income.  Assuming a 30-year fixed rate of 5%, a household with an income of $68,000 can afford a home costing no more than $300,000.  How can we close that $460,000 gap?

Our home prices are set by a national market.  None of the solutions proposed – lower property taxes, lower system development fees, lower permitting costs, expanding the UGB -- are going to bridge that $460,000 difference.  Nor will the approximately 4,000 housing units planned for the Stevens Ranch and Stevens Road Tract.  With the exception of 20 acres dedicated to affordable housing in the Stevens Road Tract, the rest will be sold at market rate.

Bend’s Affordable Housing program has an impressive record, given the limited funds available.  At present, it manages approximately 1,200 affordable apartments.  It is funded by federal Community Development Block Grants, a Bend Construction Excise Tax and a fee of one-third of 1% of commercial/industrial building permits.  Bend needs a lot more money than is available through these sources:  we need to consider what other cities are doing.