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Housing Production Innovation Opportunities

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There is no singular, direct path that leads to solving our housing underproduction crisis. Everyone in the industry believes a different route can get us there. Developers favor the creation of more innovative financing solutions, while construction companies seek ways to attract and retain more workers. Although the priorities may be different, they all carry equal weight in addressing the key challenges.

Our best foot forward is to build a community that stacks all potential solutions on top of each other in the four key areas of products, design, and assembly; financing and funding; regulation and policy; and labor workforce and human capital. As we often say at the Missing Middle Housing Fund, there is no silver bullet. Together we can achieve an outcome greater than any individual solution alone.

Why The Missing Middle Matters
Housing, a fundamental human need, is a burden for millions. The costs to create new homes are high and rising, so not enough homes are built to keep pace with demand. The result is that people, places, and economies do not thrive as they should. 

Nationwide, 36.5 million households spend more than 30% of their income on housing-related expenses, pushing them to the edge of economic security. 524,000 of these are Oregonians. In growing places, housing of any kind is rarely created at the scale and pace to maintain affordability and economic vitality - but the situation is particularly acute for what's known as workforce housing.

 

Middle income earners - between roughly 80% and 120% of Area Median Income (AMI) - struggle to find homes they can afford, and don't qualify for traditionally subsidized low-income housing. The result is that housing to serve them is "missing,” which drives up the costs of all market rate housing.

Oregon is woefully deficient in creating housing for its citizens. Oregon's historical  under-production of housing has led to a current deficit of approximately 130,000 units versus market need, which means Oregon ranks second worst in the nation in terms of under-production. This construction and inventory deficit has led to skyrocketing housing costs, and is now impacting Oregon’s economy. Businesses from the coast to central Oregon now cite housing’s unavailability and high costs as the primary impediment to hiring and retaining employees.  

The challenge affects both rural and urban dwellers alike; and as with most systemic challenges, BIPOC Communities, new Americans, and those far from services and resources feel the squeeze the most. After a pandemic and destructive wildfire seasons, our need has only grown. 

 

Please contact us if you have a solution to help create work force housing or are interested in finding a solution for your area.
 

Emerging Solutions

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  • Modular manufacturing techniques are reducing time and cost to build.

  • Emerging home building technologies are making homes more affordable and sustainable. 

  • The rise of mass timber production is empowering builders to build faster through the integration of technology and natural resources. 

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  • Innovative business models, like community land trusts, are attracting and pooling resources to invest in land and lease it to potential buyers. 

  • The emergence of mission-aligned investors is leading to the creation of new investment tools that enable access to capital.

  • Oregon Governor Tina Kotek recently announced a goal of increasing annual production by 80%.

  • The State of Oregon has allocated considerable investment in housing production initiatives.

  • An additional $5M was allocated by the state to support housing and community capacity for local governments.

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  • New partnerships between public, private, and non-profit organizations are pooling resources and amplifying program scale. 

  • Procurement strategies are shifting to achieve more diversity in the workforce. 

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