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Springfield city planning says 53 percent of all renters are 'cost-burdened'

City officials say Springfield incomes aren't increasing as quickly as the price of rent. (SBG photo)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. – Skyrocketing rents and a tightening housing market are prompting Springfield officials to look at ways to boost affordable housing.

The city council has been debating the issue since fall of 2016.

Rents and median home prices in Springfield are rising about twice as fast as incomes have gone up, according to a city planning report.

City planning manager Sandy Belson said the problem in Springfield boils down to this: “We have a lack of houses to purchase. We have a lack of rentals for market rate.”

The supply of housing is very low at all levels. There aren’t many new apartments.

One recently opened complex along Fifth Street is the largest, new multi-family project since 2008.

This is the situation: median incomes went up 20 percent for Springfield residents between 2000 and 2013. At the same time, rents climbed 39 percent. Median house prices went up 43 percent.

The city said 53 percent of all renters are in the category of what they call “cost-burdened.”

“Households are cost burdened if they pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing and basic utilities,” Belson said.

“People are squeezed. People are squeezed because their incomes have not increased as fast as the cost of housing has increased,” said Tom Mulhern, executive director at Catholic Community Services.

Mulhern said he likes many of the ideas the council is considering.

“Or a possible tiny house pilot program or giving incentives to builders,” Muhern said.

And devoting more federal HUD dollars to projects like the Royal Building in downtown Springfield, an affordable housing project down with St. Vincent de Paul.

“So we really need to see an increase in the number of housing units built across the spectrum in order to meet our needs and keep the prices at a reasonable level,” Belson said.

The city will hold more meetings on the affordable housing plan.

Belson said public hearings by the Springfield City Council will take place this summer.

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