A discussion about affordable housing

The lack of affordable housing continues to be an issue across the United States, and right here in Clark County.

This perspective was supported strongly by one speaker at the recent Economic Forecast Breakfast.

While Scott Bailey, a regional economist for the Washington Employment Security Department, described the local economic outlook as positive with strong job growth, he said wages and income continue to be stagnant. Youth ages 25 to 34 have been the most strongly impacted.

The availability of affordable housing was described as “basically non-existent.”

“Vacancy rates are really low,” Bailey said. “We have a lot of people with jobs who are having a hard time finding a place to live, much less an affordable place to live. That’s totally chewing up their income and really hampers our recovery, because so much of their income is going into rent instead of going into spending on other stuff.”

It’s a problem that should be addressed, as the availability of affordable housing has a ripple effect on the economy and the population. Housing insecurity impacts citizens’ health, educational opportunities, economic security and can contribute to the cycle of poverty.

Washington State University Vancouver and the Thomas S. Foley Institute are tackling this issue through a series of forums that will focus on uncovering the challenges and opportunities related to affordable housing.

The local forum will be held Tuesday, March 31, at 5 p.m., at Camas High School, 26900 S.E. 15th St. According to an article in today’s Post-Record, it will seek to build constructive dialogue and community engagement around regional priorities.

It’s an important issue that deserves attention and, most importantly, a solution.