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Portland Housing Crisis – Adding to or Forcing out Portland’s Weird?

Portland, traditionally known for its young culture and promises of “Keeping Portland Weird,” has become a haven for young professionals seeking a vibrant culture.1. The “progressive values” of the city attract young people, as young families look for a new culture in which to raise their children.2. This movement to the city has created a vacancy rate of about 3% in the Portland, which is one of the lowest in the country.3. “Keeping Portland Weird” seems to be an attractive motto.

“But the city’s popularity has had another effect: those who helped make it cool can’t afford to live there anymore.”4. By December, Portland has had purported increases in house prices of 10.9% in the past year alone, far out-shining cities such as Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, and Miami.5 This has made it more and more difficult for people, including those that were a key part in the formation of Portland’s weird, to stay in the city.6 This difficulty is only to grow greater, as “little has been proposed so far to help potential home buyers who are facing the most competitive market since before the great depression.”7. It appears that thus far, the peak in popularity has not been matched with sufficient government response. In order to maintain some of the original Portlandians, price declines will have to occur in some way or another.

Correlated with the rise in prices is the decrease in availability, as people rush to buy all remaining homes on the market. In December alone, there were the most closed home sales on record.8. Compared to the normal four to six months’ supply of housing, housing inventory had dropped as low as 1.2 months.9. Even worse, there does not seem to be a positive outlook for demand matching supply in the near future.10. Therefore, the only thing to do is look to the coming months in hopes of a solution to this problem; or, if you are a young professional dying to get in, you may risk buying now before the prices rise even more.

  1. Gosia Wozniacka, Rising Rents Pushing Out Portland’s Young Families, Creative Class, The Seattle Times (Nov. 11, 2015), 

  2. Id. 

  3. Id. 

  4. Id.) On a national scale, Portland stands above many major cities in terms of home prices. ((The Associated Press, Home Prices Still Rising at 5% Annual Pace, N.Y. Times (Dec. 29, 2015), 

  5. Id. 

  6. Rising Rents, supra note 1 

  7. Jim Redden, Expect Housing Prices to Skyrocket, Portland Tribune (Jan. 21, 2016), 

  8. Luke Hammill, Portland’s Housing Market Posted the Hottest December on Record Last Month, The Oregonian (Jan. 18, 2016), 

  9. Id. 

  10. Luke Hammill, Portland-Area Housing Market Remains ‘Remarkably Tight’, The Oregonian (Dec. 15, 2015). 

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