(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.