Ashland Library to Host Debate On Affordable Housing

ASHLAND, Ore. – Following decades of underbuilding, Oregon has an extreme housing shortage. Straining under the pressure of housing that is becoming increasingly unaffordable, home buyers across Oregon are having to think outside the box and look outside expensive cities. 

Shrinking housing stock and increases in prices are causing suburbs and small towns to experience their own dilemmas. According to experts, there’s no quick fix, but there are things that can be done.

“Tackling the Affordable Housing Shortage Head-On” is the topic of a public discussion scheduled to take place at The Ashland Library on Jan. 2 about affordable housing in Oregon. Part of  the “Big Ideas Discussion Series,” – a monthly series offered by Ashland’s branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) teaming up with Jackson County Library Services, the debate covers a subject important to Oregonians- their homes.

People renting are affected worse than those who own houses. Considered to be affordable if a housing unit costs 30% or less of income, over 50% of renters in Orgeon don’t have enough money to afford the basics- including food, child care, internet access and transportation, after paying rent . With limited state housing available, there are not enough housing units, so landlords often raise rents with few repercussions, making Oregon one of the states with the lowest supply of affordable rentals.


The Housing Shortage in Oregon

With the decrease in availability of affordable housing, more people have been pushed into homelessness, and between 2020 and 2022 Oregon had a 22% increase. Oregon Housing Needs Analysis of 2022 indicated that the state needs to build 555,000 more housing units to meet the demand over the next 20 years, and one directive called on the state to build 36,000 homes a year — an 80% increase from current production.

Gaining national attention in 2019 when it became the first state to phase out exclusive single-family zoning, Oregon’s new law required cities to allow small detached homes that typically share a courtyard- such as duplexes, in areas zoned only for single-family housing. But this does depend on the size of the city.

To establish how modular timber homes withstand various environmental conditions, the Oregon legislature approved $5million in 2021 for a pilot project to study six homes installed in different climates and regions throughout Oregon. Passing a substantial $200 million package to help US cities address the housing crisis this year, lawmakers allocated money for homelessness services, but cities are also required to set building targets for buyers at different income levels.

Against this backdrop, District 5 Representative Pam Marsh and Brandon Goldman- the Community Development Director at the City of Ashland, will be speaking to the public. Discussing strategies to address the housing crisis, with some debate around possible funding and policies as it applies to the 2024 Legislative Session, Marsh hopes that the community will come together- and think creatively about the approach to affordable housing The city is looking for ways to integrate housing into all kinds of neighborhoods for local communities.

Scheduled to take place in the Gresham Room at the Ashland Library from 4 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday January 2, the meeting is free- and open to members of the public.

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