For students in search of housing, finding vacancies both on campus and in the community could become more difficult. Demand for rental housing in Central Oregon has steadily increased over the past ten years. Due to the increase in demand, rental vacancies are at an “all-time” low, according to Kenny LaPoint, director of Housing Works Central Oregon.
In Central Oregon, for 2014, the vacancy rate is now expected to be around .5 percent while in 2009 it was around 13 percent. Part of the decrease in available rentals is due to the 2008 recession, according to LaPoint.
“I think a lot of people are in the rental market after going through foreclosures during the recession,” LaPoint said.
Housing Works assists low-income renters in finding and paying for housing. This year, the agencies received 2,043 applications for government-subsidized housing during the five-day application in January. This is a 500 application increase from the previous year.
“It’s going to be tight this year,” LaPoint said.
Housing Works currently owns 750 units of affordable housing and has 40 more planned to go up on the East side.
“By increasing our developments we can begin to lessen the pressure for our clientele,” LaPoint said. “Without that, I don’t see any way the low vacancy rates could change.”
The organization also provides rental vouchers for low-income renters. Last year, only one quarter of distributed vouchers were able to be used to the low numbers of available housing in the area.
Would-be tenants should move quickly if they find a vacant home or apartment, according to LaPoint.
On-campus housing at Central Oregon Community College is just as sparse this year. For the current 2014-2015 academic year housing applications were released to the public through the housing webpage on approximately May 1, 2014, according to Paul Wheeler, director of residence life. By June 9, Juniper Hall had received enough applications to be filled to capacity.
“This was a pace we had never experienced before,” Wheeler said. “We continued to receive housing applications through the summer and at one point the waiting list for Juniper Hall was as large as 20 students.”
In past years, Juniper Hall typically received enough housing applications to fill to capacity closer to late August or early September.
“In most cases not even start the academic year at full capacity due to applications later being withdrawn,” Wheeler said.
The low rental vacancies which ultimately drive up rent costs are a good sign for the college’s future residence hall slated for completion in late spring or early summer 2015, according to Megan Bernard, resident director at Juniper Hall.
“It [not good] for other people but it’s really good for Juniper Hall and for our goal of getting 300 students in the new residence hall for fall 2015,” Bernard said.
Molly Svendsen | The Broadside