Consider This: Why Does Housing Cost So Much?

June 3, 5:00 p.m.

Photo by Tierra Mallorca

Click here for an audio recording of the conversation.

Housing in Oregon is expensive. Our minimum wage is among the highest in the country, and yet, according to a study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there isn't a single community in Oregon where a person earning minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom apartment. Why are rents and home prices so high, and what can we do about the situation? On June 3, we hosted a conversation with people who are working in different ways on making housing more affordable for Oregonians.

Our Guests

Kim McCarty is executive director of Community Alliance of Tenants, Oregon’s only statewide, grassroots, tenant-controlled tenant-rights organization. Her career includes community organizing, contract management, and policy development. She has a wide range of housing sector experience including affordable housing development, property management, and housing policy with a focus on renters and fair housing. 

Lorelei Juntunen is a partner and vice president of operations at ECONorthwest, an independent economic consulting firm. She specializes in the evaluation of the intersection between public investment and community development. Her recent projects have identified creative approaches to investment in redevelopment and affordable housing for local governments. Many recent projects have focused on implementation of equitable housing outcomes, including development of the State of Oregon’s first Statewide Housing Plan and affordable housing policies for many Oregon communities.

Eli Spevak has been developing affordable housing communities in Oregon for over twenty years, starting as a volunteer construction supervisor with Habitat for Humanity. In 2006, he launched Orange Splot, LLC to build new models of community-oriented, affordable, green housing development—ideally within an easy bike ride of his house. Eli was awarded a Loeb Fellowship in Advanced Environmental Studies at the Harvard GSD, cofounded, cofounded Portland for Everyone, and now chairs Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission. You can read more about his work in Portland's Cully neighborhood in this Oregon Humanities story.

Facilitator Paul Susi is a theater artist, social services professional, educator, and community activist born and raised in Portland. From 2015 to 2020, Paul worked as a lead shelter host, shift supervisor, and ultimately manager for six successive Transition Projects shelters, specializing in opening and establishing best practices for new emergency homeless shelters throughout the Portland area. Paul currently works as a site supervisor for the Outdoor School with the Multnomah Education Service District, where he goes by the camp name “Badger.”

Consider This is made possible thanks to the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Oregon Cultural Trust, Northwest Natural, Tonkon Torp LLP, Stoel Rives LLP, the Mellon Foundation, the Kinsman Foundation, and the City of Portland's We Are Better Together program.



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