Portland Rent Increases Slowing

A new report published today shows signs that Portland’s rental market may be starting to soften after years of steep increases. According to the 2017 State of Housing Report, published annually by the Portland Housing Bureau, rents in Portland rose less sharply overall in 2017 than in the previous four years. The 2 percent average increase across the city marks the first annual rent increase below 5 percent Portland has seen since 2012. The city’s average rental unit now charges $1,398 per month—$31 higher than the previous year.

The relatively smaller rent increases seen in one-bedroom units and a decline in studio rents helped limit the city’s average rent growth in 2017 overall. However, rents for larger units have continued to rise—5 percent for two bedrooms and 10 percent for three bedrooms.

“We’re hopeful that the housing market is showing early signs of relief, but the continued rising costs in family-size housing and the financial burden that is putting on Portland families, particularly families of color, is still very concerning,” said Portland Housing Bureau Interim Director Shannon Callahan. “That’s why we have committed half of the new housing created under the Housing Bond to providing stable, affordable homes for Portland families with a focus on bridging housing disparities for communities of color.”

While housing production and permitting levels in the private market have remained higher than any point in the last 15 years, the report also shows significant affordable housing production by the City over the last year. The City more than doubled its number of affordable housing units opened in 2017 over the previous year, and dramatically increased housing production for the lowest-income households at 0-30% of the Area Median Income (currently up to $20,190 for a family of three) in particular, adding over 100 units targeted at extremely low-income households in the last year with another 267 in the pipeline. Currently, the City has more than 700 affordable units in production that are slated to open in 2018; another 1,300 will open in 2019.

Still, affordability remains a critical challenge in most Portland neighborhoods, especially among communities of color, seniors, and single mother households. Of the 24 Portland neighborhoods, none were considered affordable to rent for the average Black, Latino, Native American, or single mother households, and only one neighborhood was affordable for seniors. Similarly, the average Portland household can only afford to purchase a home in six of the 24 neighborhoods—there were none where the average Black, Latino, Native American, senior, single mother, or foreign-born household could afford to purchase. Only six of the 24 neighborhoods had a median home purchase price below $300,000, four of which are in East Portland

“This report gives us a barometer to see where we are making a difference and where there are opportunities to push harder,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “This information will guide us as we continue innovating to find humane solutions to homelessness, addressing access and affordability in the rental market, and providing more families the opportunity for homeownership.”

Source: Portland Housing Bureau

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