Understanding the Issues
In Oregon, there is a shortage of affordable and available rental homes for households that have an extremely low income. The definition of extremely low income is that your income is at or below the national poverty guideline or 30% of your area’s median income. Because of the lack of available housing, high rents, and an increase in home prices, there are many households that are severely cost burdened and spending more than half of their income on housing.
When households have to use over half of their income on rent, they tend to sacrifice other necessities so that they don’t get behind on house payments and get evicted.
In Union County alone, 1 in5 renters are paying more than 50% of their income in rent and 3 out of 4 renters with extremely low income are paying more than 50% of their income. For every 100 families with extremely low incomes, there are only 34 units available.
Another issue that people face is that wages have not really increased to match the increase of cost of living. This makes it difficult for people to save money, let alone have enough money to pay for everyday living expenses. Affordable housing is defined by income. In Union County, a household must earn at least $33,920 to afford a two-bedroom apartment at a fair market rent. With the mean renter wage being $12.78, you would need to work 57 hours per week at minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
There are many reasons that reasons as to why people become homeless or deal with housing insecurities. Whether it's financial issues, mental health issues, addiction, rising costs of materials for building houses, lack of healthcare, not receiving public assistance, or anything else, homelessness can happen to anyone. It is not a choice that people make. Ending homelessness looks like eliminating the barriers that make it difficult for people to stay housed or obtain housing.
Housing Matters Union County promotes safe, secure, affordable housing, and tailored services for the residents of Union County, including: emergency, temporary, and stable housing. Our creative strategies include overcoming barriers for tenants and landlords, encouraging housing development, and eventually becoming an independent nonprofit to support a land trust.
We cannot rely on government programs alone to fix the issue . Effective and lasting solutions can be found through local collaboration and partnership.
We aim to support those who are unsheltered by helping them feel safe, helping them access resources and engaging their voices.
Implementing a single coordinated application process for housing assistance and rental units. It would reduce rental application/background check fees and would increase fair housing standards in applications.
We want to work towards a county with a sufficient capacity of housing units, especially low income units. We will work to expand the housing coalition with landlords, city and county officials, and tenants. We also are looking into the possibility of creating a community land trust.
We also strive to empower renters and individuals with lived experience into positions of leadership and advocacy.