ASTORIA — Compared to Oregon as a whole, rental property in Clatsop County remains somewhat affordable, according to a new analysis by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Oregon is now the 18th most expensive state for renters, up from 25th in 2015. In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at “fair market rent” in Oregon and still have money left over for food, medicine, transportation, and other basic necessities, renters need to earn $19.38 per hour. This is Oregon’s 2016 housing wage, reported in a report released in May. This figure represents an increase of nearly $3 in what a renter must make to afford housing in just one year.
However, in Clatsop County a renter needs to make $15.65 an hour to afford a two-bedroom rental, the report said. The most expensive counties are bunched around Portland and require about $23.23 an hour to afford a two-bedroom unit.
The report defines fair market rent for a two-bedroom in Clatsop County as $814 a month, compared to a statewide average of $1,008.
The report, Out of Reach 2016, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Oregon Housing Alliance. The report attempts to highlight the gap between what renters earn and what it costs to afford rent at fair market value.
Clatsop County has about 5,900 rental household, who amount to 37 percent of the total. On an annualized basis, an income of $32,560 is needed to afford a two-bedroom unit here, according to the report, compared to 40,318 statewide. A three-bedroom apartment or house costs an average of $47,440 here, compared to $58,384 in Oregon as a whole.
In Oregon’s northwest corner, only Tillamook County has lower rent expense than Clatsop, requiring an average wage of $14.73 to afford a two-bedroom unit, according to the report.
Housing advocates are critical of the mismatch between wages and rents.
The typical renter in Oregon earns $13.87 an hour, which is more than $5 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest two-bedroom home, according to a press release from the housing alliance. Even outside of the Portland metro area, the alliance calls the landscape for renters “harsh.”
While Oregon’s minimum wage at $9.25 is higher than the federal minimum of $7.25, there is still no affordable housing available for Oregon’s full-time minimum wage workers, according to the alliance. A family must have 1.7 wage earners working full-time at minimum wage, or one full-time earner working 68 hours per week — meaning nearly 10 hour days, 7 days a week — to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment. Even with the increases to the minimum wage passed by the Legislature in 2016, the Housing Alliance said rents will continue to significantly outpace wages.
“We all need a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home. Housing costs are continuing to rise relative to wages, combined with a huge number of no cause evictions, rapidly increasing rents, and very low vacancy rates. The Legislature can do more to invest in affordable housing and protect tenants, and we’ll be advocating for the 2017 Legislature to do more for Oregonians who are affected by the housing crisis,” said Alison McIntosh, deputy director for Policy and Communications at Neighborhood Partnerships, which convenes the Oregon Housing Alliance.