Finding housing becomes challenge for north coast workers

AP News
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Posted: Oct 28, 2016 4:30 PM

SEASIDE, Ore. (AP) — Finding housing on Oregon's north coast has become a challenge for seasonal, part-time and lower-wage workers.

Demographics from the Oregon Employment Department show that an aging, affluent population, most of them second home owners, occupies most of the housing in the Seaside area. Meanwhile, they are driving the demand for labor, reported The Daily Astorian (http://bit.ly/2ej8huL ).

Thousands of workers, seasonal and year-round, are competing for the 1,300 rooms available in Seaside.

Kevin Leahy, executive director of Clatsop Economic Development Resources, said many of them just can't find a place.

"They're living at Fort Stevens. They're living in campgrounds. They're living in cars," he said.

City Councilor Seth Morrisey, a lifelong Seaside resident, is familiar with the struggle.

"I was in a position where I needed housing, to find a house," he said. "I couldn't even get something on the high end. No amount of money could get me a place to live."

A 2011 report from the city says vacation rentals have severely cut into the availability of long-term housing. The analysis found that 76 percent of the vacant rental stock was vacation, recreation or other occasional use units.

City Council President Don Johnson said workforce housing should be a priority for Seaside.

"We've worked very well to become as popular a destination as we are, but now we have to figure out how to get workforce housing so they can live in the area and go to work," he said.

One idea involves the City Council considering reducing or waiving system development charges as an incentive for more affordable housing development.

"If there could be some kind of formula for discounted development fees for people who are dedicating at least a significant portion of a facility to low-income housing, that would be a big step forward," Councilor Jay Barber said.

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Information from: The Daily Astorian, http://www.dailyastorian.com