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Interview: RAC Discusses New Out of Reach Report on Housing Affordability

Image showing wages needed to afford rent across the US
Graphic from the 2018 Out of Reach Report

In case you missed us on the Jefferson Exchange on JPR Public Radio, you can listen to the recorded show here.

We discussed the newly released Out of Reach Report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition with Diane Yentel, the CEO of NLIHC, James Raison from ACCESS, and show host Jeffrey Riley.

The Out of Reach report backs up what we have already been hearing from renters across Jackson and Josephine Counties every week as we knock on doors to talk to people about housing and build grassroots power to address the housing affordability crisis.

This new data shows the average Oregonian cannot afford a housing anywhere in our state. As we know, this includes Southern Oregon where, like the rest of the state, seniors, people living with disabilities, working people, and families are struggling to find housing that's affordable.

In Jackson County you would need to earn $35,920 to afford a small family apartment, but average income is $31,000. Forget it if you are making minimum wage. You’d have to work 48 hours a week to afford even a one-bedroom.

In Josephine County, it’s similar. You’d need about the same salary to afford a small family apartment, but wages are even lower at just under $28,000. To afford a one-bedroom if you are on minimum wage, you’d have to work 50 hours a week.

Here’s what these numbers mean to real people and what we can do to help them:

  • There were nearly 3,400 homeless students in Jackson (2400) and Josephine (987) Counties last year. Affordability and lack of tenant protections are a huge driver of that.

  • Renters who are in their homes today, who have managed to find a place they can afford are at huge risk.

  • It is still legal in our state for landlords to do a secret, no-cause eviction.

  • No one knows about it except the landlord and the tenant.

  • The landlord isn’t required to report it anywhere and the tenant has no rights. They just have to move, even though there has been no cause for eviction other than the landlord’s whims.

  • How will a low-income renter even hope to find a new home they can afford in southern Oregon. And it’s the same for sudden steep rent increases - if they can’t pay, they’re out.

That’s why the state legislature MUST pass tenant protections in the 2019 legislative session. They failed in 2016 to pass a ban on no-cause evictions and other reasonable policies to protect families who have been priced out of Oregon. Our community can't afford to let the legislature cave to pressure from lobby groups representing the biggest developers, real estate industry, and big out of state landlords. Will you join us in calling on our legislators to stand up for Oregon families and communities and pass strong tenant protections in 2019?


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