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Across much of Oregon, people are feeling the housing crunch

May 2, 2017

FILE - In this July 10, 2008, file photo, a bicyclist travels along the east bank of the Willamette River in Portland, Ore. As Oregon endures an acute housing shortage, the Legislature is considering making landlords pay tenants for no-cause evictions. The bill would also reverse a law that bans most rent controls, allowing cities and counties to adopt their own rent-controls. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)

BEND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon has become a desirable place to live, with droves of people moving to the state in the Pacific Northwest.

But the availability of housing has not kept up. From villages on the rugged coastline, to Portland, to towns near the mountains and in Oregon’s famed forests, people are in desperate need of affordable rental housing as rates keep going up and rentals become scarcer.

Here is a look at how bad it is getting, and what some communities are doing:

— In Portland, the state’s largest city, some tenants have seen their rent rise steeply, sometimes even doubling. As housing becomes more expensive in the trendy city, many people are being pushed farther into the suburbs and beyond, adding to the traffic congestion that plagues the city of 630,000. The City Council in February required landlords to pay tenants relocation costs of $2,900 to $4,500 when they’ve raised rents by more than 10 percent or evicted them without cause.

— In Seaside, 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Portland, workers who staff the spots that tourists flock to can’t find housing and are living in campgrounds and in their cars, Kevin Leahy, head of an economic development outfit, told The Daily Astorian newspaper.

— Rental housing is so scarce in central Oregon’s Bend area — popular for its mountain recreational opportunities and numerous microbreweries — that bidding wars sometimes erupt when a property opens up, with people making offers higher than the original asking price.

— In Astoria, near where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean, city leaders in April allowed property owners to create “accessory dwelling units” in places like basements, attics and backyards, and rent them out, City Manager Brett Estes said. Council members also are considering further limiting Airbnb rentals to free up units for permanent residents. Already, entire homes can’t be rented to vacationers.

“Major employers are having difficulty finding employees, because of the lack of housing or the price of housing,” Estes said in a phone interview.

— In southern Oregon, the town of Grants Pass plans to rezone to allow for more apartments, and has lowered fees for new housing construction, according to the Daily Courier newspaper.

— Not all of Oregon is feeling the squeeze though. State Sen. Ted Ferrioli’s eastern Oregon district covers 36,000 square miles (93,240 square kilometers) — roughly the size of Indiana — and he would love for people and businesses to move into those wide-open spaces. He worries it “will just become a park.”

“The population density in my district is less than six persons per square mile (2.6 square kilometers), and we’ve lost population every year in the last decade,” Ferrioli said. “The lifestyle isn’t what people are used to. ... There’s a sense of isolation and distance.”

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Follow Andrew Selsky on Twitter at https://twitter.com/andrewselsky

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