Several factors causing issues, from labor shortage to COVID-19, officials say
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Central Oregon seems to have ongoing construction projects around every corner, but developers are still not building homes as fast as they'd like.
Officials say there are several issues causing the delays, amid a lingering pandemic and soaring real estate prices tied to tight land supply and very high demand.
“We’re still having a labor shortage in the industry, and that compacted with the high demand and the prices right now, it’s making it really challenging for a lot of builders and contractors," Mandy Weidman, vice president of the Central Oregon Builders Association, said Monday.
Weidman said another major issue affecting construction sites is the need to comply with COVID-19 health regulations.
“They are staggering different contractors to do work, especially when it gets to the interior part of the house, because you can’t have a crew of people to finish construction as we would normally,” Weidman said.
City of Bend Community Development Director Russ Grayson says the city is still one of the fastest-growing areas in the country. When the pandemic hit, his department even closed open positions, expecting business to slow down.
“We’ve seen the exact opposite throughout the entire pandemic, and we’ve been trying to ramp up and re-staff at the appropriate level to handle the volumes, which none of us saw coming," Grayson said.
Grayson added that the housing crisis is also playing a role in increasing the number of building permits.
That combined with learning a new online permit system has slowed things down.
“Obviously, the housing crisis that we are in, there’s a lot of desire to get new projects out the door, so we have an extremely high workload right now,” Grayson said.
For the month of March, 136 single-family permit applications were submitted. In April, there were 164 applications. Grayson says on average, they receive less than 100 applications per month. He added that the first quarter of this year was one of the busiest periods they've had in the past five years.