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As Sisters grows, some long-time locals struggle to afford to stay

SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Sisters has long been known as a small, even quaint Western-style community in Central Oregon. A place for those seeking a small town and rural lifestyle.

However, things are beginning to change -- for better, for worse -- or both.

The city of about 2,000 as of last year's population estimates is now seeing many new residential and commercial projects.

Areas which used to be open spaces are now subdivisions.

And more construction is on the horizon.

City planners say that this year to date, there have been 97 residential building permits issued for single-family homes, along with 170 residential units pending in what is being called the McKenzie Meadows subdivision and 50 apartments pending in the Three Wind development.

Then there are the commercial projects both under construction and pending, including two new hotels, a warehouse and a credit union office.

Broker Jackie Herring said the Sisters real estate market is extremely competitive, along with much of Central Oregon, due to raising demand from people moving out of urban areas and working remotely.

That makes for a housing demand far above the inventory.

"Buyers get frustrated, No. 1, with lack of inventory," Herring said. "When they get here, they're excited and they think I'm going to have a selection of 20 or 30 properties.' When they have 10, there's a disappointment factor that comes."

As for what local residents think about the change, we talked to Shirley Miller, a long-time resident -- in fact, she's been in Sisters since 1958.

She said the city's growth has had positive effects on her life, despite the inevitable issues

"I worked at The Gallery Restaurant for 27 years, and growth made my life better, because I'm retired and I'm living the good life on money that I saved," she said.

However she also said that for her children, the rising real estate costs as demand grows is making it hard for them to afford a home.

"Now, for them to get a house in Sisters, my daughter is applying for a Habitat (for Humanity) house," Miller said. "I don't know if that's going to happen. If it does, it won't be for a couple of years."

Miller also touched on what she sees as a volunteer.

"I work at the Kiwanis Food Bank," she said. "I see the result of homelessness in Sisters. I see the result of not being able to afford your rent."

She said some are long-time residents in town, but just can't keep up.

"The sad part is, a lot of the people that come into the food bank, I've known for years. They've been here for years, and maybe that's the only place they can stay."

Business / Central Oregon / Government-politics / Sisters / Top Stories
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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.



    1. All you Luddites should move to the thriving hamlet of Burns. Where opportunities are virtually limitless!!!!!
      Toooooooooooooooooooooooo funny!!! Soooooooooooooooooooo much whining!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  1. Grow and process and sell as much weed as possible, sisters was founded on agriculture and its time for a return to our roots, pot creates high paying jobs across many economic sectors and in both rural or urban settings… the county has new businesses trying to invest here almost every day, but the magas block the permits and try to somehow instead “blame salem” for central oregons poverty with a view

  2. Where is guaranteed in life you don’t have to adapt to hardship? Democrats promise to ease the stresses and emergencies a person needs to overcome in order to develop into a decent character. The imbeciles overrunning blue cities and Bend are a product of that failed Democratic agenda.

  3. 70 years ago it was a great place, Californians are coming because stupid people pushing them out because of all their stupid ideas. Problem being when they get here want the same dumb ideas.

  4. Back in the 70’s and part of the 80’s my mother had two shops there. Hotel Sisters Antiques and Sisters Country Antiques. She drove from here to Sisters 5 days a week. I asked her once why she just didn’t move there. She said it was too expensive to live there and, in the long run, just cheaper to drive there daily. If it was like that then I can imagine what its like now. We only go to Sisters when I need to see my Doctor as he decided to set up his practice there. I go about every 6 months and it seems like each time I go the town is just getting bigger and bigger.

  5. And I guarantee you the high school football team will never go 26-0 and win 2 state championships(98,99)again like the team my nephew was on.They went to school together from elementary through thiersenior year.Most played in and lost in the quarterfinals of the state playoff in 97 and that group vowed never to lose again and they didn’t .Point is everybody knew each other And on game night everybody knew who was playing.We all watch them grow up.Never be like that again

  6. This isn’t anything new. This has been building for quite a few years.
    It’s the same thing that started happening in Bend about 40 years ago,
    and look how well that ended up… It’s not just Sisters and Bend though,
    all of CO is slowly headed the same direction.

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