Out of Reach: The View from Oregon

Every year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition releases a report called Out of Reach. This report shows what it costs to rent a modest two bedroom apartment in every state, and shows what a renter would have to earn to afford an apartment at Fair Market Rent. 

This year, we’ve asked a few of our state partners to tell us how they use Out of Reach in their advocacy. This post is from Alison McIntosh, Policy Manager at Neighborhood Partnerships in Oregon.

Neighborhood Partnerships and the Oregon Housing Alliance are State Partners in Oregon for NLIHC, and we are excited about the upcoming release of the Out of Reach report.  Out of Reach is a great way for us to gain access to local data that can paint a picture of the scope of the problem faced by renters in Oregon who are in need of a safe, stable place to call home.

In the past, we’ve used Out of Reach in many different ways:

First, we use the Out of Reach data to help us with our County Need Sheets.  Our County Need Sheets detail the need for housing in each of Oregon’s thirty-six counties, and are a key tool for us to use as we talk to our State Legislature about the need for housing in their communities.  For example, each sheet talks about the Fair Market Rent for that community, as well as types of occupations and their incomes for people in those communities.

When we go to visit Legislators and educate them about the need for a continuum of responses to the housing crisis in our state – from homelessness to affordable rental housing to home ownership options – we use these sheets to talk about their specific communities.  We also give them to our members to talk about the need in their community, and we’ve found these sheets really helpful and very effective tools for legislators.

We are also big fans of something called Social Math here at Neighborhood Partnerships – it’s a way to make numbers more understandable and compelling to your average Legislator or reader.  For example, Out of Reach tells us that a worker earning minimum wage in Oregon must work 71 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom at the Fair Market Rent.  On our fact sheets, we say: “A worker earning minimum wage in Oregon had to work more than ten hours a day, seven days a week just to afford a two bedroom apartment in Oregon.”

Second, we also use Out of Reach to release media advisories and try to gather some local press on the high cost of housing in our communities. In the past, we’ve issued press releases, and have gained some media attention. This year, we’re planning a media advisory, and in addition, we will also release it on our blog and spread the word through Facebook.

We’re thankful to have partners like NLIHC who can help us with access to the Out of Reach data which we don’t have the expertise (or time!) to gather and analyze ourselves.   We’re looking forward to using it to highlight the need for affordable housing across Oregon.

How do you plan to use Out of Reach this year? Let us know in the comments!

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