Clark students looking to move out of their parents’ house may find it hard to do so, as population growth has historically outpaced construction in the Vancouver area and created an unsatisfiable demand in housing and a rise in rent prices.
Clark County is the second-fastest growing county in the state, and Vancouver saw the largest population increase of all cities in the county from 2014 to 2015.
With breakneck growth and a shortage of rentals, rent prices are increasing in Vancouver at a rate higher than anywhere else in the nation. In July 2015, ApartmentList.com, a non-profit apartment-finding resource, reported that Vancouver had the fastest-rising rent prices in the nation. According to the site, the average rent cost in Vancouver was almost 10 percent more than it was the year before.
This poses a problem for Clark students, many of whom no longer believe moving out of their parents’ house to be an option. Some students have had to move back in with their parents because of their inability to pay rent.
“This brings in more doubt that I can successfully support myself on my own,” said Clark student McKenzie Joner. “Supporting myself will be expensive, but especially here.”
Another student, Kiana Walker, tried moving out when she started at Clark, but was unable to find an apartment that fit her budget.
“Moving out seemed like the best way to be independent while staying in my hometown to go to school,” Walker said. But even renting a small studio apartment was impossible for her while going to school full-time.
“It’s a very complex issue,” said Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt. He said there are many contributing factors to the rapid rent increase, including a low supply of housing and a rise in population.
According to the Columbian, Clark County’s population increased 2.04 percent from April 2014 to April 2015, making it the second-fastest-growing county in the state. The Columbian also reported that this is the largest annual population increase the county has seen since 2008.
Although the population has risen substantially, the housing availability in Vancouver has not.
A recent study by the United States Census Bureau listed the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro metropolitan area as having the lowest vacancy rate in the nation at 2.4 percent. The average United States vacancy rate is 7 percent.
“The demand far outpaced the ability to construct housing,” Leavitt said. “But the Vancouver City Council has taken the issue of affordable housing very seriously.”
Last Sept., the Vancouver City Council approved three ordinances that will shield low-income renters.
The ordinances give more time for tenants to find new housing by extending the vacate notice period to 60 days, prevent landlords from refusing to rent to citizens based on whether they pay through social security or voucher programs and give renters an additional 15 day notice when the rent price will increase by 10 percent or more.
Leavitt pointed to the city’s investment in the Vine, the new Bus Rapid Transit System, as a way that the city council is doing what they can to provide larger opportunity in housing that will benefit Clark students.
Leavitt said the new bus system will open up a better choice of mobility for students, as they can live further away from Clark but still have easy access to campus. The Vine will run from the Vancouver Mall to downtown Vancouver and is planned for completion in late 2016.
“We will continue to implement, through policy, what we as a council believe will be to the benefit of the broader community of Vancouver,” Leavitt said.
Students looking for housing should visit the housing bulletin board located on the first floor of the PUB building.