Our community has some of the highest home prices and rents in the state. Over the past year especially, home prices in Bend have skyrocketed making it impossible for many who work in Bend to afford to live here. We hear stories every day of students experiencing housing instability, of small businesses that cannot recruit and retain top talent, of families who cannot find an affordable place to rent or buy. The housing crisis was exacerbated by the pandemic, and it disproportionately impacts low-income families and people of color.
City Council and Bend’s legislative delegation are keenly focused on increasing affordable housing and shelter as quickly as possible to address the mounting crises of unaffordable housing and houselessness. To make Bend a place where working families can afford to live, we must strategically leverage public funds and implement creative solutions alongside the housing market.
That is why we fought to pass House Bill 3318: crucial legislation to address the housing crisis here in Bend. HB 3318 creates a pathway to bring 262 acres of state-owned land at Stevens Road in southeast Bend into the urban growth boundary for desperately needed housing. Twenty acres of land will be conveyed to the city specifically for income-limited affordable housing, donation to community land trusts and educator housing. The bill is the result of negotiations between the city of Bend, our legislators, the Oregon Education Association, the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the Department of State Lands.
This piece of property is currently owned by the state, and it sits adjacent to our current UGB. It is Common School Fund land, which means the state has an obligation to maximize the value of the land for the school children of Oregon, either by selling it or putting it to use for our schools. HB 3318 does both: by bringing the land into the UGB we can greatly increase the value of the property, and the proceeds will benefit our schools. The bill also dedicates a portion of the land to workforce housing for educators and those who work in our schools, who live below certain income thresholds. This is a once -in -a -generation opportunity to allow Bend the opportunity to be creative in addressing our housing needs, while supporting Oregon schools.
We are ardent supporters of Oregon’s land use system. It is a major reason why Bend is such a great place to live and work. In the midst of our current housing crisis, HB 3318 expedites the state land use process for this piece of property to achieve a higher and better use of this land while ensuring our community has ample opportunity to participate directly at every stage of planning and that the City Council has the ultimate say in outcome.
We must act urgently: If we do not, Bend may no longer be the vibrant, inclusive and creative community we love. We are committed to making the dream of a secure home in Bend a reality for thousands of people who are essential to making this community work, from teachers and firefighters to grocery store workers and health care providers. HB 3318 will help Bend take a big step toward addressing our affordability crisis, with solutions specifically designed for this community. We hope that you will join us.