Out of Reach: 2020

For Immediate Release: July 14, 2020

Contact: Alison McIntosh

Cost of Housing in Oregon Continues to Rise Despite Pandemic
Housing stability is critical during the COVID pandemic;

Salem, Ore. – All Oregonians need a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home. The cost of a place to call home in Oregon continues to rise this year, according to the national release of the “2020 Out of Reach” Report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Today in Oregon, families must earn $24.37 an hour to afford an average two-bedroom apartment, and still have money left over for other basics like food and medicine. 

The COVID pandemic has not made things any easier for people who rent their homes in Oregon. The cost of housing continues to rise, while over 460,000 Oregonians have filed for unemployment and are struggling to make ends meet during this pandemic. We have seen how critical it is for people to have a safe place to stay home with their kids and families. The need for rent assistance to help support people in their homes is critical.

“During the COVID pandemic, we have seen how critical housing stability is for members of our community. Yet, today, far too many of our neighbors are facing tough choices between paying rent and putting food on the table,” said Duncan Hwang of APANO. “People who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color have been most impacted by COVID-19 and face the most serious threat of housing instability.  Due to long entrenched disparities, people of color are far more likely to rent their home than white families, and these high housing costs continue to disproportionately and negatively impact communities of color.”

Across Oregon, the cost of housing continues to rise rapidly. In the Portland metro area, people would need to work 83 hours a week at minimum wage just to be able to afford an average one-bedroom apartment and still have money left over for food, utilities, and transportation.  In Jackson County, someone would need to earn just over $20/hour to afford an average two-bedroom apartment, and have money left over for the basics.

“Every day I wake up in a healthy affordable home where my rent that is based on 30% of my income. I have electricity, water, and can afford the necessities of life. I am one of the of few lucky folks who have received this amazing opportunity and I am so very grateful. This opportunity of affordable housing means that I can afford a place to call home in my community without worrying about whether I have to make tough choices between paying rent or food,” said Char Reavis, a member of the Steering Committee for Residents Organizing for Change.  “Everyone should be so lucky to have the help they need to pay the rent.  I just have to say that I do not want to be one of the lucky few who have this opportunity, I want to be one of the lucky many!”  

“We hear every day from vulnerable older adults who do everything to keep up with rising rent, but their very limited income puts them one unexpected bill or medical emergency away from homelessness,” said Marisa Espinoza from Northwest Pilot Project. “Because of COVID-19 impacts, these seniors are even more at risk of losing their housing. Our communities need access to safe, stable, and affordable homes to remain healthy and secure.”

Decision makers must prioritize housing stability during the COVID pandemic. Congress must act to pass the HEROS Act, which includes $100 billion in rent assistance nation wide, and would go a long ways towards making sure no Oregonian is evicted because they are unable to access rental assistance during this pandemic.

The Out of Reach Report measures the cost of housing in every county in the US, and compares what renters would have to earn to afford a basic apartment. The full Out of Reach report, is available at http://nlihc.org/oor. Complete data for Oregon, including Housing Wages for all counties and major metro areas in the state, is available at https://reports.nlihc.org/oor/oregon.