By Shelby Sebens | Northwest Watchdog
PORTLAND — Middle income earners in the Portland Metro Area are struggling under the growing rate of housing and transportation costs, according to a recent study by a non-profit research organization.
Though Portland is recognized across the country for its array of public transit opportunities, the study, conducted by by the Center for Housing Policy and the Center for Neighborhood Technology still found people living outside the city are spending more than the national average on gas, insurance and other transportation related costs.
“I think this is a result of the way the Portland MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) is defined,” said Stephanie Morse, assistant research director Center for Neighborhood Technology. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metro Area is a seven county area, including Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Clark, and Skamania counties. The study found middle income households here are spending 60 percent of their incomes on housing and transportation.
The study showed the costs of housing and transportation are growing 1.7 times faster than income for households making $28,000 to $57,000 a year, considered by the study to be middle income in the Portland Metro Area, said Robert Hickey, a senior research associate for the Center for Housing Policy.
“When these costs are this high, households are having to cut corners on things we take for granted or go into debt,” he said. Portland ranked 10th least affordable city for middle income households of the 25 metro areas studied.
Housing and transportation costs went up 35 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to the study which relied on U.S. Census data. But income only increased 21 percent.
In Portland and western Multnomah County, and southeastern Washington County, the study found transportation costs are significantly lower than the regional average, below $1,000 a month and sometimes as low as $500-$800 in compact, mixed use neighborhoods. But in the outlying suburbs, transportation costs can reach $1,200 to $1,300 a month.
The Center for Housing Policy makes policy recommendation including increasing affordable housing options and improving public transportation to make it available near affordable housing.