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Bend Chamber leads initiative to address housing affordability, availability

(UPDATE: Adding video, comments from Bend Chamber representative)

Workforce Housing survey showed 58% of the respondents felt rent was a bigger issue than home purchasing.

BEND, Ore (KTVZ) -- If you're struggling to find housing in Bend, you probably know you're far from alone!

With the lack of housing availability and the high cost of living in Bend, employers are having a hard time gaining workers, so new efforts are underway to address the multifaceted issue.

St. Charles Bend, Grace Bio Labs, Oxford Hotel, The Wallace Group and Webfoot Painting are just a few Bend businesses challenged with finding needed workers, due in large part to the lack of affordable housing.

The Bend Chamber recently conducted a workforce housing survey, finding that many people who would like to work in Bend simply can't afford to live there.

"(A total of) 58% of the respondents felt that rent was a bigger issue than home purchasing," Bend Chamber Marketing Director Garrett Jaenicke said Tuesday.

Other findings revealed that 67% of Bendites surveyed know people who have left the city because of the cost of housing.

Scott Wallace of The Wallace Group, a geotechnical engineering and consulting company, said they offer sign-on bonuses and relocation packages, but it's not helpful when there's simply no housing for workers. He proposed the best solution is providing different types of housing, including condos and duplexes, to accommodate more workers.

The Bend Chamber has created a workforce housing initiative to address the issue.

Jaenicke said the focus is on mid-market workers.

"Firefighters, teachers, healthcare workers, really that middle market if you will in terms of income," Jaenicke said.

Katy Brooks, CEO of the Bend Chamber, said in a recent statement that the goal is to "'build in, build up, and build out,' to improve the housing market.

Jeanicke elaborated on the concepts:

"Build in' refers to, 'How are we utilizing the land that we have within the city limits?' There are pockets of land that we can build on right now that are slated for building. 'Build up' refers to, 'Okay, how well are we utilizing the space and that density?" So going up instead of out. 'Building out,' though, refers to the UGB, or the urban growth boundary. That can be expanded, so the city limits can be expanded so that's there's more land to be able to develop and provide services to -- but that's a long process."

Efforts also will be made to reduce fees for developers, provide tax incentives to offset costs and expedite building permits.

However, with the housing demand growing at a rapid rate, Jaenicke said one quick solution is 'accessory dwelling units,' which are additions to a house or property that homeowners and landowners can currently build."

He remarked that Bend is an up-and-coming city with major metropolitan issues.

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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.



  1. Low income and mid market housing? In Bend? The NIMBYs wont allow it. They had a chance to do this with the gold course. How did that work out? The owner being bullied into selling at fraction of its value so the nearby residents could keep the “undesirables” aka normal people out.

    If your housing plan doesn’t include a large amount of housing affordable by a single income, minimum wage worker then you are just adding to the gentrification problem.

  2. Maybe these people should get an other job instead of asking for hand outs. Housing is expensive then work harder. Nobody owes you anything. Don’t expect hard working folks to help out lazy people.

      1. It’s a minimum wage, not a comfortable or living wage. I make a lot of money now, but did work two minimum wage jobs years ago. So I have no sympathy for anyone not willing to work two jobs as I have been there, done that and didn’t whine about it and suffered none for it. It allowed me to reach my goals. Perhaps the problem is people don’t have enough foresight to plan what is in their best interest and not so much about being paid too little. When you blame others for your problems, there is no solution.

        People may wish the minimum wage, 40 hours a week, would provide enough income to support a family, but that’s not practical or even reasonable. No one is owed a living: we are all given the opportunity to earn one and we are the living in a time of unprecedented wealth.

        1. You are aware that the minimum wage was, in fact, created to be both a living and comfort wage? A wage that would be the minimum a person would need to guarantee shelter, food and the ability to take care of a family.

          Read your history.

      2. Again here is another socialist liberal that knows how an economy works and must obviously have a business that hire at a living wage and provides products everyone demands. Do please tell us the name of your business so we can patronize it. And I am sure you take no tax deductions so you pay your fair share,

    1. Clearly you have no idea how much it cost to rent. Current rental rate of $2000 a month for a two bedroom apartment at $15 an hour a person would have to work 134 hours just to pay rent. Just like your orange idol… you have no idea what the heck you are talking about.

  3. Build in, build up, build out

    Would ktvz please be so kind (and ethical) to clarify that only 2 of these options are legal under Oregon law?

      1. Barney you hit the nail on the head, it is a world that is controlled, and manipulated by money, you can build what you want where you want, if you have the money, you can pollute the environment, as long as you have the money, to by enough tax credits to do so, you can use as much water, and electricity in Prineville as you wish, as long as you have the money, and offset’s to justify your waist, and when these people who have the money to do these things, spend it, they want it back, and at a profit. With that, rules, and regulations are made to be broken, and it always cost us all more, and those cost are not always just money.

        1. Lots of ways to look at it. Folks with money ‘know how to break the law and get away with it.’
          Or that folks with money can hire folks who know how the system works and use it – legally – to their best advantage.
          Probably some of both, of course – and also another Rorschach test of just how sour an outlook on life folks have. Many here have such a glum view of today, I’m surprised they can get out of bed in the morning. No good way to live. Somewhere between Pollyanna and “the whole world is going to hell” is a balance.

  4. So, you folks at the Chamber aren’t happy with free market capitalism? I’ll buy into the whole “affordable housing” issue when I see some being built on the west side of town. Also, we should have a moratorium on expanding the UGB until we can figure out how to address the water problems we’re already facing. Unless, of course, you want Bend to burn down like overgrown tourist areas in California.

  5. Government needs to stay out of the free market. You want rent to come down? Let it rise up first. When people decide to move elsewhere for work, and real estate goes empty, rent will fall. If business wants to be a going entity , they will pay a living wage. If this is impossible, they will go out of business, and be replaced by someone that can make it work. Band aids and interventions don’t work.

  6. Government should read their history books again. It used to be that when companies needed workers, they (the company), would build housing and dorms for them. The cities and communities did not pay for this. The company did. If businesses are having a problem keeping workers and having a place for them to live, quit giving high dividends and bonuses to your CEO’s and build dorms to house your workers. This should not be. Government or city involvement and expenditure. This should be paid for by the private businesses that are trying to hire people. They do this in Europe and other countries. Bring it back to America again.

    Also, minimum wage is supposed to be for unskilled workers and single people under the age of 25 generally. It is not meant to be a living wage for people with kids. That was never meant as an entitlement to support a family and a standalone home. If you want a standalone home, I suggest birth control and a 2 income family with a disclaimer that the community should only be supporting senior citizens, veterans, those with mental or physical issues, and those with short term emergency support like losing a job/fire/abuse/etc.

    Other than that, the City needs to quit spending tax payer dollars to support the employers problems. This is not a public city problem. It is a private company issue. It’s not like we need 3 Macdonald’s and urban sprawl. How many fast food and pubs does this town really need? Get back to the basic’s and the economy will thrive. Instead of spreading $ between 4 Macdonald’s, how about only 1 or 2?

  7. Hey, Katy, feel free to lower the prices of the homes Brooks Resources sells. Price them 20%-50% below market value to help the community with affordable housing. Yeah, didn’t think so.

  8. “‘build in, build up, and build out,’You mean Build Back Better? What a farce this is . It”s NOT WORKING. Maybe the city can put homeless in the remodeled courthouse that was voted for by our councilmen instead of using the money for the homeless .

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