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Grants Pass is declared 3rd most unaffordable housing market in country

City officials hosted an open public forum to discuss rent burden with Grants Pass residents.

Posted: Dec 30, 2019 11:14 PM
Updated: Dec 30, 2019 11:18 PM

GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- Right now, Grants Pass has the third most unaffordable housing market in the country. Monday evening the City of Grants Pass held an open forum on the rent burden the city is facing.

City officials are taking this time to address recent statistics, the causes of rent burden and some possible solutions. They're also hoping the public will take advantage of this forum and share their stories.

Bill, a Grants Pass landlord, was at the forum and got up to speak at the end, "So it's this battle that just goes on and on and on and on."

He said he and his wife manage more than 300 properties in Grants Pass.

"Ask me any questions you want because trust me," he said, "I've been involved since 1970 building low income units throughout Oregon."

During the public forum he shared from his perspective on why rent is so high.

"You have to maintain those [properties], you have to replace that air conditioner and heat pump, it's no different than a single-family house, so you run the costs of that unit through the roof." 

He broke down every requirement the state and county has for properties and he said that's why landlords have to charge so much in rent. An example Bill mentioned: when property taxes increase, rent will increase too. 

Since 2010, rent has increased 42% in Grants Pass, but income has only increased nine percent.

Bradley Clark is the principal planner for Grants Pass.

He said, "Grants Pass is one of the most rent burdened places in the country." He told NewsWatch12 about 63-percent of renters in Grants Pass are rent burdened. Realtor.com has reports that show 6/10 renters here pay more than 30% of their income on rent. The state of Oregon recognizes a household as "rent burdened" if the renter is paying more than 30% of their gross income towards rent. Households paying more than 50% of their gross income towards rent are considered "severely rent burdened".

"One of the main solutions is to increase the supply of land that is availble for developing multi-family housing," Clark said. During the forum he said the city is working to change that, but it's not a quick fix.

People in the audience, even agreeing. One woman saying, "There's no land available within the city limits."

Review of the community development priority plan (CDBG) will begin in 2020, but will take four years.

"In terms of our ability to identify land, we can propose that and then the state has ultimately approve it," Clark explained.

This is the second year the City of Grants pass has held this forum. They use the information gathered from the community discussion to change policies. On January 23, the strategy plan from the housing advisory will be reviewed by the city council.

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