Our Housing Crisis

Eugene is facing a housing crisis.  We simply have not built enough housing to keep up with demand.  As a result, prices for both renters and homeowners are rising.  Average rents in the city have increased by more than $250/month over the past five years.  Eugene's rental vacancy rate is less than 2%— significantly less than the 3% considered healthy to allow normal movement, repairs and turnover.  The inventory of homes for sale has also been very slim for years, and the average home sale price has increased by almost $25,000 in just the past year.  As of 2014, over 60% of Eugene households were cost burdened for housing.  This figure has probably increased since then as housing prices continue to rise faster than household incomes.
One significant component of the housing shortage is Eugene’s lack of "missing middle" housing-- backyard cottages, tiny homes, cottage clusters, rowhouses, and smaller multi-unit buildings.  While it is not for everyone, missing middle housing provide options to Eugene residents who want something that is neither an apartment nor a single-family home.  Missing Middle housing could serve a variety of people, from retirees and empty-nesters who want to simplify and downsize, to young adults starting out with their first home, to homeowners who could use a bit of rental income to help make ends meet.  The small scale of missing middle development has less impact on existing neighborhoods and can be built by local builders on existing land.  By facilitating the construction of missing middle housing, Eugene could address some of its housing shortage without relying on big developers to create either giant apartment complexes or acres of subdivisions on vacant land.  
Despite a crisis of rapidly rising housing costs, City Council has not focused on housing affordability and choice. In fact, the most recent consideration of backyard cottages, in 2014, actually ended up making them harder to construct.  Meanwhile, the variety of Single-Family Options proposed in the South Willamette area have been taken off the table.
If you want to help address Eugene's housing crisis by creating better options in your neighborhood, or if you are seeking affordable housing options that you simply can’t find, City Council needs to know about it.  Please give your City Council member a phone call, send them an e-mail, or speak to the entire Council at the next Public Forum on Monday, Feb. 28 or Monday, March 13.