Bend rental market tightens

Expert believes vacancy rate has fallen below 1 percent

By Joseph Ditzler / The Bulletin / @josefditzler

The demand for rental housing in and around Bend is increasing, especially for low-income tenants, Kenny LaPoint, housing and resident services director of Housing Works, said recently.

Housing Works, the housing authority for Central Oregon, helps low-income renters find and pay for housing. LaPoint said the agency received 2,043 applications for government-subsidized housing during the five-day application period in January, 559 more than the year before.

“That’s the highest number we’ve seen apply,” he said. Last year, he said, 1,484 applied.

Housing Works also conducts the annual survey of all rental vacancies for the Central Oregon Rental Owners Association, LaPoint said. Last year, the survey found 46 of 4,618 units in Central Oregon available for rent, a 1 percent vacancy rate. The official results of the survey this year will be released at the association’s annual meeting April 18.

Based on what he’s seen, LaPoint said, he believes the vacancy rate is probably one-half of 1 percent by now.

“This year is going to be very tight,” he said.

By way of example, he said, low-income renters could only use 15 of 60 housing vouchers Housing Works issued late last year, because that’s all that was available.

Property managers have several applicants for every vacancy. Would-be tenants must move quickly when they find a vacant home or apartment, said Central Oregon Rental Owners Association President Kevin Restine.

“The best advice: Look early and look often,” he said.

One apartment complex, the 104-unit Sage Springs off Boyd Acres Road, is leasing units in buildings as contractors complete them. That’s the one multifamily project under construction in Bend, according to the city Community Development Department.

Three others are in various stages of preconstruction work.

Woodhaven, 144 units planned off Reed Market Road, and 500 Bond, 230 units at Southeast Wilson and Southwest Bond avenues, both have planning approval, which is the first phase in the city review process.

The city has approved plans for Mill Quarter, 49 multifamily units proposed near the western junction of Colorado and Arizona avenues, but the developers only have until Monday to obtain a building permit before the approval expires. The project was first proposed in 2006, said Bend Planning Manager Colin Stephens.

The developers of a potential fourth project, 400-unit Aspen Heights, have yet to submit a plan for city approval, Stephens said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com