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Missing Middle Housing Challenges

By: Rory  Rowan

Project Engineer, City of Bend

Leadership bend Class of 2017


Two local non-profit organizations Building a Better Bend and Bend 2030 hosted the event “Solving Bend’s Missing Middle Housing Puzzle” at the Tower Theatre recently in order to contribute to the community conversation and collective knowledge about options for addressing housing affordability.

Dan Parolek, a national expert on middle market housing and the main speaker for the event, detailed how community members often get caught up in acrimonious conversations when the housing spectrum is viewed as a binary of single family homes versus large multi-family apartment complexes. In reality, Dan made the case, there is a “missing middle” range of housing options that were much more common in the pre-WW2 era in many communities including Bend.

In reality, Dan made the case, there is a “missing middle” range of housing options that were much more common in the pre-WW2 era in many communities including Bend.

These include duplexes, courtyard apartments, and other house-scale developments that can actually often very efficiently house a higher number of people on small lot sizes while still aesthetically blending into the character of the surrounding neighborhoods. Dan stated these tend to be the purview of mainly smaller developers since they are often in-fill redevelopment on small lots in existing neighborhoods but that some larger development and property management companies are beginning to approach this market thoughtfully.

One of the critical pieces that Dan made clear must be considered is how local zoning regulations such as setbacks and minimum parking requirements are crucial factors in whether or not the financing and development of these types of housing options are economically feasible for the market. Finally, questions were taken from the audience and Dan also commented on some of the Bend Collaborative Housing Workgroup’s draft toolbox for increasing housing options.


The presenting sponsor was Ascent Architecture & Interiors and support was also provided by Brooks Resources, Central Oregon Association of Realtors, Central Oregon Builders Association, Housing Works, the City of Bend, and the American Institute of Architects Southwestern Oregon Chapter.

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