Housing is a Drag at S. Oregon Business Conference

S Oregon Business Forum 28 Jan
S Oregon Business Forum
28 Jan

by Pete Belcastro
For the most part the news was good about Southern Oregon’s economy.   In fact, the 250 people who attended the 13th Southern Oregon Business Conference heard our economy has surpassed where it was before the Great Recession of 2008.   Unemployment is down to 6.2%.   More than 86,000 people are employed – the highest total ever.    All categories of employment are up except mining and timber.  We’re growing in manufacturing and technology jobs too.
According to Keynote Speaker, Dr. Tim Duy, from Univ of Oregon Economics Dept, the only thing dragging our economy down here is, guess what – housing.
Duy went on to say that residential building has not kept up with demand for housing here.  It’s all types of housing too, single family residential, multi family housing and affordable housing.
We’ve been talking about this gap since 2013 when the economy first began its rebound.  No new housing was built here for five years.  Rental vacancy rates are less than 2% throughout the county.  The demand and wait lists or extensive for HUD home vouchers, 3 bedroom rentals, low income apartments and on and on.
Yes, our economy has rebounded well.  Thanks to efforts by groups like SOREDI, So Oregon Regional Economic Development Agency, there are continuing efforts to help launch, relocate and help business prosper.  Good paying jobs are essential to our economy.  So is affordable housing for all.  We’re doing well on the former but falling behind further on the later.  The demand for housing is not going to slow down anytime soon.  We’ve got to figure out how we’re going to increase the supply.

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