Portland’s Housing Market: In crisis or at a crossroads?

I’m excited to announce:

 THIS IS THE FIRST GROUP POST OF THE PORTLAND BLOGGERS ROUNDTABLE (PBR)! In case you missed it, at the end of 2015 I founded the Portland Bloggers Roundtable to:

unite the diverse voices of Portland-area bloggers. PBR allows bloggers from diverse backgrounds to unite and share their unique perspective and voice on local topics. PBR meets once a month around the city to drink, laugh, and collaborate on the next topic- covering all things Portland, from local current events to weird northwest phenomenon. Look no further than PBR to discover four distinct opinions on issues effecting Portlanders.

Awesome, right?? And don’t forget to check out the other 3 PBR member’s posts on this controversial Portland topic, below!

An Oregon Native

I was born and raised in Springfield, Oregon. More specifically, the Mohawk Valley, on 2 acres of land out in the country where my neighbors and I rode horses bare-back, and I went to a small elementary school where I cultivated friendships that are still very dear to me today. c2b8aa873bca89a08aceb97149e12495

After high school and living abroad and working and more travel, I lived in the much more progressive, bohemian city of Eugene, finishing up my first year at University of Oregon, and deciding to move up to Portland with my partner at that time. Flash forward 10 years and here I am- a writer, a linguist, a mother to a 3rd grader, a Portland State University degree holder, an employee of the school district…

The last 10 years have brought much joy but also much pain into my life, and it’s funny to think how opposing circumstances that have effected my life can also effect the connection to the place I live and call home. When I experience happiness and contentment, I find comfort and beauty in the everyday, and when heartbreak and disappointment have occured, I easily curse my surroundings as mundane and lacking inspiration.

A Completely Biased Review

I have definitely experienced both the personal highs and lows, and have been enamored with and loathed the city, accordingly. However, as an Oregon native and a citizen of Portland for a decade, regardless of my current feelings towards the city, I am protective of “my territory” and wary of the recent changes. Yes, that statement could totally be construed as xenophobic, but it’s not. It’s just my opinion about the place I live and love/hate. No fear mongering, just my honest, unsolicited opinion.

This post is purely qualitative. I have no desire to fill this page with statistics, quotes or reason, really. This is a biased post based off of my visceral reaction to circumstances and events that leave me feeling a bit angry and confused about the future of my city.

The Housing Market

Firstly, fuck you Portlandia. I hate that show. I feel like I want to blame that show for exposing Portland to the outside world. It was our little emerald city secret and that show brought in small pox.


In my mind, Seattle and San Francisco have always been the ‘big sister’ west coast cities to Portland. They have a more diverse demographic, more tourists, more industry, and they always got the cool bands touring through. The last 18 months have seen an absurd shift in the housing market in Portland, where once you could put in your application for an apartment and feel confident you would be accepted, to now attending open houses and competing NYC-style for a hovel without a full kitchen.

Portland has always had unique attributes including the innovative culinary scene, bountiful outdoor recreation and a wonderful mash-up of hippies and hipsters co-existing peacefully for the most part. I think it was a perfect storm when the food scene, the music and film scene, and our eclectic industry started making waves, people took notice… and they also noticed that housing cost half the price it did anywhere else on the west coast. That alone was reason enough for people to relocate here in hordes.

It’s not that I think Portland is immune to evolving, because it was bound to happen, it just happened abruptly and in such a greedy way.

When I speak of greed, I speak of the incredible way housing costs increased seemingly over night. People getting evicted from the places they have rented and lived in for years, only to see the entire building demolished and replaced with micro-apartments for out of state buyers.

Turn of the century homes have been bought and torn down, and 2 or even 3 row-houses crammed on to the lot. No yard, no privacy, and no consideration for the feel or style of the neighborhood it invades.



A good friend of mine has worked at a local restaurant for years (a steadfast in the Portland landscape) and recently the owners sold the business to a real estate developer, informing the employees only 30 days before the leveling of the property, to make way for apartment buildings.

Portland’s artists can’t afford to live here any more. The unconventional and creative are being overshadowed by the homogeneity of couples wearing matching puffer jackets and once distinct neighborhoods, now boasting identical store fronts.

People are moving to Portland without a second thought as to how they can contribute to the established culture, but instead, demanding to be entertained by Keep Portland Weird bullshit and obsessing over mediocre doughnuts. There is no afterthought of the impact on my community that comes with this mass relocation- housing, jobs, infrastructure, culture, and our most vulnerable community members are all effected.

And So It Goes

There was quick money to be made, and Portland business and property owners showed their true colors. I think that is what makes me most upset. Portlanders willingly collaborated with out-of-state developers to sell off property and buildings, opening the flood gates for housing instability and the unceremonious inundation of new arrivals.

don’t be petty ’bout it

These abrupt changes scare me, and my first reaction is to become defensive and competitive–territorial even. But feeling that way is petty, and it’s a waste of time and energy.

Even though it is really easy to blame most things on Californians, this change was bound to happen.

It didn’t happen the way it should have or needed to {with some consideration and little bit of damn respect} but it happened, or rather IS happening.

The physical and cultural landscape of Portland is changing… I can try to deny it and fight it, or maybe I should just buy a ticket to the side show and see what’s inside the tent.

The 3 other contributing members of PBR have also weighed in on their personal experience with the Portland housing market; this is some good stuff, seriously:

Courtney Tait: Searching for Home in the City of Bridges

Hudson Gardner: How Things Change

Valerie E. Rogers: Housing and Tourism


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