Morrow County is launching a major housing analysis and buildable lands survey in September.
The county and its five cities, along with consultants Angelo Planning Group and Johnson Economics, are partnering for the study. County planning director Carla McLane said everyone knows anecdotally that the county is short on housing, but an in-depth analysis that is “truly county-wide” should help point the way toward fixes that the county and cities can implement.
“Hopefully it begins to help answer some questions about where we’re at and what we need,” she said.
The buildable lands inventory part of the project will also include commercial and industrial lands, while the housing analysis will look at components such as demand in each city, barriers to development and the makeup of the current housing market.
Boardman’s housing shortage tends to get most of the attention, because the Port of Morrow is creating jobs far faster than developers are adding housing. But McLane said it’s a county-wide issue. In Heppner, the county, the health district and Community Counseling Solutions are all employers that have seen new employees have issues getting into a house or apartment.
“Folks have struggled to find housing in Heppner,” she said. “It’s the same when you look at Ione and Lexington.”
One reason for that, she said, is that people who are retiring from jobs in that part of the county are staying put, meaning their homes aren’t opening up for new employees coming in to replace them. Other housing is empty but not available, such as homes in foreclosure or houses that children are keeping empty while their parents are in assisted living facilities.
The analysis project is kicking off on Sept. 6, and McLane said they anticipate having a final product in March. They plan to release some findings along the way, and to solicit feedback from the community during the process.
Contact Jade McDowell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4536.