PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – As Oregon grapples with a lack of affordable housing, prompting Gov. Tina Kotek to sign an executive order to bolster housing production, the crisis is also impacting more affluent cities including Lake Oswego.
“When you look at the data, Lake Oswego is building housing, but nearly 100% of that housing, of those units up to 2019, are only affordable to folks who are making over 100% of the median family income,” Lake Oswego Mayor Joe Buck said.
Lake Oswego was ranked third in a list of cities with the most expensive homes in Oregon, with the typical home value at $840,000, according to the January Zillow Home Values Index. According to Zillow, the state average for home costs is $474,097.
“The challenge we have in Lake Oswego is that the cost of land is extremely expensive, and so there are life challenges to making this a real possibility,” Buck said.
According to the mayor, public assistance and partnerships with the state, city and county will be required to make housing affordable, especially for those who are making under 50% of the median income.
Lake Oswego is working on three affordable housing projects, which, Buck says, includes the first family affordable housing units in the city.
“These projects are the direct result of city leadership and community leaders coming together to make these projects happen,” Buck said. “We’re very pleased to have these hundreds of units in the pipeline, but this is just the start.”
Additionally, the city established a Housing Production Strategy Task Force which convened in December 2022. The group is made up of housing producers and consumers — including community members who have faced housing insecurity and homelessness, Buck said.
“That task force is going to be recommending both additional outreach strategies, but also comprehensive plan amendments and other actions that will help Lake Oswego produce the housing that is needed to serve all members of the community,” Buck explained.
While the city works to produce housing, Buck says like the rest of the nation, inflation has impacted city projects.
“The cost of these projects has dramatically risen, even just in the past couple of years,” Buck said — noting that costs for a downtown Lake Oswego multi-family housing project have also increased.
Overall, the mayor says affordable housing is vital for cities saying, “having housing that’s affordable to residents at all income levels is critical to the health of any community.”