Even prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 and the recent wildfires, finding affordable housing in Lincoln City and the surrounding area was difficult.
According to the Lincoln County School District, in 2019, 1,112 students lacked adequate housing. To put that into perspective, of the 198 districts in Oregon, Lincoln County ranked dead last in that dubious category.
Today, with hundreds of people left homeless due to the Echo Mountain fire, the acute lack of affordable housing is dire. Our city is a sea of vacation rentals, mostly vacant second homes and always vacant investment properties. In this ocean of affluence there is a dead zone of affordable housing.
If you are in the market for a home priced north of $300,000 then Lincoln City has many options for you, however if you are a grocery store worker, a housekeeper, an instructional assistant, a home health care worker, a nursing assistant or a cook, that is, if you are a part of the backbone of our service sector economy, your housing options are few, and what is available is often overpriced and of poor quality.
Not only for moral reasons but also for economic ones, the housing crisis must be addressed. If I’m a housekeeper making $13.50 an hour with fluctuating hours, I’d rather make beds in Pendleton where I am able to afford an apartment and not have to live in a trailer or in a three bedroom house with six roommates.
There is only so much indignity that working people will put up with for a nice view of the ocean.
We need to rebuild a better city, one that acknowledges workers not only with hollow “we appreciate our essential workers” statements and instead with concrete policies that ensure that the needs of workers and their families to live in affordable, safe and clean dwellings are placed at the top of the city’s agenda.