Bend Chamber Workforce Housing Initiative

Housing for a More Affordable and Inclusive Bend

Looking for Ways to Become Involved?

New Survey Results!

Lack of Housing Affordability Impacts Economic Growth

In our survey conducted in October 2022, Central Oregon businesses weighed in on how the lack of affordable and available workforce housing is impacting their ability to hire employees and, ultimately, their revenues.

%

Reported that the inability to hire decreased their revenues.

%

Said that housing had a high impact on hiring.

%

Stated that the high cost of housing limits their growth and strains their existing workforce.

What We’ve Accomplished

The Bend Chamber launched the Workforce Housing Initiative in 2021 with the goal of connecting with employers and community partners to build more workforce housing as quickly as possible to help alleviate the worker shortage in Bend. Below are our accomplishments to date.

Public Poll & Employer Survey
 
Completed a public poll on housing and density demonstrating the need and support for building more housing, including more densely developed areas and more rental properties. The report was provided to the Bend City Council, Deschutes County Commission and the community.
    • Conducted August 9–12, 2021
    • Professionally administered by GS Strategy Group on behalf of Bend Chamber
    • Statistically valid poll of 250 likely voters in Bend

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Conducted an employer-focused survey to measure the impact of housing challenges on their ability to hire or retain talent.
    •  Focused on Bend area businesses
    • Gained directional feedback from 50 respondents
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Social Media Campaigns
 
Implemented a series of ongoing, robust social media campaigns designed to share the progress of the initiative, explain the challenges and barriers to solving the problem, showcase the innovative solutions that are available now, and solicit supporters to lend their voices to the initiative.
    • 28 — Average number of posts across our social channels each month
    • 1,800 — Average of engagements per month (reactions, likes, shares, comments, etc.)
    • 100 — Collected more than 100 names and contact information to date from interested supporters
Connecting Key Players
 
Began connecting employers, investors, developers, property managers and the city housing department to generate interest in new mid-market housing and support for pilot projects.
Bend ADU Guide
 
Created the Bend Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Guide, a web-based “how to” manual for potential ADU development.
    • 4,000 — Individuals have visited the Bend ADU guide since its inception
    • 3,425 — Unique pageviews to date including introduction, financing, permitting, construction and property management pages

Hired a Workforce Housing Expert
 
Hired a workforce housing expert from Cascadia Partners, who has:
  • Lead a cross-industry workshop with more than 40 attendees, including developers, bankers, local and state government officials, and housing advocates to identify an actionable list of policy ideas to impact workforce housing for rental or ownership
  • Presented at June’s What’s Brewing: Bridging the Gap in Mid-Market Housing
  • Conducted research on local and state housing policies to help inform and support policy for the 2023 legislative session
  • Produced a list of local and state workforce housing policy recommendations now being vetted with the forming coalition
Developed SDC Recommendations
 
Engaged with community partners to develop a strategic approach to tiered SDCs based on best practices in other communities.
2023 State Legislative Platform
Developed a collaborative state legislative platform for the upcoming 2023 session that is focused on creating and enabling more mid-market housing.

 

LOCAL AND STATEWIDE POLICY CONCEPTS
  • Increase access and funding for first time homeownership (i.e. down payment assistance via HOPE program) including adjusting eligibility to 150 percent average median income (AMI)
  • Increase eligibility and funding for workforce housing funding streams, including raising the cap on state funding mechanisms to 150 percent AMI
  • Redefine and streamline substantial completion definitions, by way of OHBA 2022 legislation
  • Assess ways to increase vertical home ownership via condo development
  • Modify middle income tax exemption standards for flexibility around scale, tenure, and length of exemption
  • SDC modernization, including alignment with policy goals; timing of assessment and ensuring predictability
COLLABORATING AND ALIGNING POLICY PLATFORMS
  • Working with developers, small-scale builders, the City of Bend, Deschutes County, non profits, builders and realtors associations, and more to align local and state policy platforms and increase our voice

Strategic Framework

THE PROBLEM

The availability and cost of housing is at a critical level in Bend, making it too expensive for many to live near where they work. And employers know that housing is one of their biggest hurdles in hiring and retaining employees. Housing that is out of reach for many results in a lack of labor and a growing disconnect between who works and lives in Bend.

Put simply, the cost of finding a place to live — whether that means paying the rent, or a home mortgage, is driving away those who want to work here.

This effects staple jobs in our community, including nurses, teachers, firefighters and many industries that are essential —people who in the past would have had little trouble finding a place to live in Bend. Now, the housing market is nowhere within their reach.

THE SOLUTIONS

Over the past year, the Bend Chamber has led an initiative with employers and community partners to build more workforce housing as quickly as possible.

Bend’s housing shortage needs multiple strategies that increase the amount and variety of mid-market housing types.

 

How do we get there?
  • Support building well-planned living spaces within existing neighborhoods and higher buildings and more density in designated urban areas in Bend.
  • Build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to rent to those who work in Bend.
  • Create new local and state policies that support the construction of more mid-market housing.
  • Connect employers, developers, investors and housing projects and solutions.
  • Educate the community—business, elected officials, leaders and employees, on the need for and solutions to, our mid-market housing crisis.
Build—In, Up and Out
  • Create well-planned living spaces within existing neighborhoods
  • Allow for higher buildings and more density in designated urban areas in Bend
  • Start the process of expanding our Urban Growth Boundary to increase the amount of land on which we can build.
  • Build Auxiliary Dwelling Units (ADU’s) in adjacent rural areas
Employers — We Want to Hear from You!

We need your help in quantifying the extent to which unaffordable housing is impacting your ability to hire or retain talent. Please take our short survey and feel free to share the link with other employers that you know. The more data we have, the better!

Resources

Bend ADU Guide Cover

Economic Impact Survey

Analysis of business feedback on the economic impact of high housing costs.

Bend ADU Guide Cover

Bend Accessory Dwelling Unit Guide

Everything you need to know to plan & build an ADU in Bend.

Bend Central District Plan

Bend Central District Plan

View details of the City of Bend’s Central District Plan.

Bend Central District Plan

Stevens Road Tract Concept Plan

View details of the City of Bend’s Stevens Road Tract Concept Plan.

Housing for a more affordable Bend

Workforce Housing Survey Slides

Analysis of Bend Chamber’s Workforce Housing survey.

Solving for Workforce Housing

Solving for Workforce Housing Slides

Slides from Mike Kosdrosky of Workforce Housing Solutions.

Attainable Housing Presentation

Great presentation on challenges, perceptions and solutions.

Moving To Bend

Employee Relocation Info

Resources for employees moving to Bend.

Survey Analysis Webinar

Watch a replay of our workforce housing challenges webinar.

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BACK TO THE TOP

Join us to solve Bend's workforce housing shortage.

Join the initiative to stay up to date on our progress and lend your voice to help solve Bend’s workforce housing challenges.

Thank You to Our Collaborators

With thanks to our collaborators for helping us work towards solving Bend’s workforce housing shortage.

Bend Broadband

The Bend Chamber is actively supported by these Signature Investors