Redmond is in. Bend is in. Every other city in Oregon is out, and the Legislature should change that. The 2016 Legislature created a pilot program effort to ease the state’s affordable housing crunch.
Under it, two cities, one large, with a population over 25,000, and one small, would be able to annex land for development that included affordable housing without the usual rigamarole that attaches to such requests.
Bend was chosen as the large city in 2018. Redmond, with more than 27,000 residents, had also applied at as a large city, but only one winner in each category could be chosen. Other cities dropped out. Bend’s fixed-route bus system may have given it an edge over Redmond.
It took the Legislature and the governor to change the 2016 law a bit to allow Redmond to build its project, too. That was accomplished Tuesday when Gov. Kate Brown signed House Bill 2336.
As a result, a 485-unit development will be built on the outskirts of Redmond and will include more than 240 units of affordable housing. The Bend project will add 185 affordable units and 175 “missing middle” units priced for middle income families to Bend’s supply of less expensive rental housing.
That’s good. But now that the program has succeeded, and the housing will be built, lawmakers should apply statewide the rules that govern the two projects.
There’s hardly a community in Oregon that doesn’t have housing problems. Thus, in tiny Monument, with a population of 125, 86% of renters are “severely rent burdened,” paying more than half their income on rent. In cities over 10,000, nearly 40% of renters in Corvallis are severely rent burdened. The figure stands at 33% in Redmond and 25% in Bend. In fact, according to figures on the Department of Land Conservation and Development’s website, fewer than 20 of Oregon’s 241 incorporated cities have no severely burdened renters.
In other words, there’s a crying need for both affordable and “missing middle” housing across the state. The pilot program that gives both Bend and Redmond the chance to ease their problems at least a bit is a success — land will come into the cities, and affordable and “missing middle” housing will be built. It’s time to declare the test a success and expand it statewide.