By Marina Starleaf Riker

The Bulletin

Bend needs about 13,000 new housing units by 2028 to keep up with the growing demand, but there’s a looming question of whether the supply of housing will eventually catch up to meet the demand.

City planners say Bend needs about 13,000 new units to accommodate population growth — about 30,000 people — between 2014 and 2028, according to the city’s housing needs analysis. Yet experts are optimistic the city will meet that demand barring any major hiccups with shortages in construction laborers or the proposed urban growth boundary expansion.

The city is currently in the process of expanding its urban growth boundary, which is the line that divides the city from rural county standards. If the plan is approved by the state, which could happen this winter, Bend will have the option to annex about 2,000 acres of county land into the city.

This comes as Bend is facing a major shortage of rental units, with a vacancy rate hovering near 1 percent for the fourth year in a row, according to the Central Oregon Rental Owners Association 2016 Rental Survey. In the last five years, the number of available homes for sale each month has dropped from about 1,000 to about 700 — about a 30 percent decrease, according to data from the Central Oregon Association of Realtors.

“I think the bigger questions are not just whether it is enough inventory, but whether it can be brought on fast enough to meet current demand, whether it will create the types of units buyers are looking for and whether or not they will be able to be built at the price points we need,” said Kim Gammond, a spokeswoman for the Central Oregon Association of Realtors.

City planners say, in order to meet the city’s future housing demand, more than 7,500 single-family homes, 1,300 single-family attached homes and 4,800 apartments are needed between 2014 and 2028. The city’s plan calls for the mix of housing built to drop from 75 percent single-family detached homes to 55 percent, according to the housing needs analysis.

“This does involve change, and the minute you do that it opens the door for comment,” said Kirk Schueler, president of Brooks Resources.

Going forward, opposition from the public or a dip in the economy could prevent developers from building the units needed to allow for more people to live in Bend, Schueler said.

Tim Knopp, executive vice president of the Central Oregon Builders Association and a Republican state senator representing Bend, said the city is dealing with fewer construction workers than it was before the Great Recession, which can lead to rising housing costs and building delays.

Still, the number of building permits for new units has ranged between about 800 and 1,600 per year since 2014 — a huge boost from 2009 when 132 were granted, according to city data. Building about 13,000 new units by 2028 is totally realistic, Knopp said, as long as Bend’s city limits are expanded and there’s an adequate number of construction workers.

“That’s very doable as long as we don’t have any more of a labor shortage than we already have,” said Knopp. “People are much more cautious right now to make sure they don’t overbuild for the market.”

­— Reporter: 541-633-2160,