On April 6 the Portland Community Chamber of Commerce hosted “Eggs & Issues: Preserving Portland’s Identity: The Future of Portland Housing” at the Holiday Inn By The Bay. More than 480 people attended the discussion and networking breakfast.
Brit Vitalius, of the Vitalius Real Estate Group, moderated the discussion which touched on Portland’s rising rents, lack of new developments and need for more high-paying jobs to help stabilize what has been dubbed the housing crunch.
“The state of the housing market in Portland has become one of the hottest issues of the past few years,” Vitalius said. “The shortage of units has pushed up rents and increased concerns about the affordability of housing. For single-family homes and condos there is a market lack of supply. And buyers are often competing in multiple-offer situations, driving prices up.”
Vitalius added that that housing shortage has led to the creation of a committee and task force in Portland and South Portland, respectively, set up to address the shortage.
But the bigger issue is holding onto Portland’s identity while adding more housing stock, Vitalius said.
“On one hand we have a supply and demand imbalance which creates affordability issues. This will only be cured by the creation of more housing units,” he said. “On the other hand, we like Portland the way it is. Being Mainers, we resist change and fear we will lose what we love about the place.”
Watson said there were three likely factors that formed a “Perfect storm” to create the housing crunch – immigration, the popularity of Portland and the general lack of supply of housing.
That crunch led to soaring rent price increases since 2011, Watson said. While most markets see increases of 3 to 4 percent annually, Portland averaged a 6 percent increased since 2010 and 9 percent in 2015.
“From 2011 to 2015 there was a market correction,” he said. “Our feeling is that the rents have been pushed enough, and that you just can’t sustain that level.”
Questions from the crowd focused largely on how to make or create affordable, market-rate housing for Portland’s workforce.
Culley said that while increasing supply would help, another factor impacting housing is the rate of pay.
“One of the (things causing the housing crunch) is the cost of housing, but we also have to look jobs,” he said. “We have to attract to Portland the type of jobs that will allow people to live where they want to live.”
To see the entirety of the discussion watch the video below.