By Nicholas A. Johnson | Original Article
Jan. 12, 2018

Starting Jan. 1, consultants with czb LLC began gathering information for the first phase of a Coos County housing study, in hopes to combat a countywide and statewide lack of housing.

The Coos/Curry Housing Coalition formed after a homeless summit in April 2017 where local officials saw there was an apparent need to rethink the way the county looks at housing.

After the coalition formed, the United Way of Southwest Oregon stepped into the leadership role. It was determined by local government agencies and organizations like United Way and the Oregon Coast Community Action that a housing study would be the best way to decode Coos County’s housing issues.

The housing coalition awarded their bid to conduct the study to the urban planning organization czb LLC for the sum of $61,500. They were not the highest bidder. The highest bidder was South Coast Business development, which asked for over $70,000 to conduct the study.

United Way of Southwest Oregon director Marcia Hart said, “czb wasn’t chosen based on just cost, we also looked at geographic location. Thirty percent of it was the cost. We looked at professional qualification, their capacity to do what we’re asking them to do, specialized experience, and past performance specifically in similar project.”

czb and the housing coalition have developed a three phase plan. Phase on which is currently underway, consultants are engaged in collecting information and data about Coos County.

“They’re now just into to their first phase which is data collection and qualitative analysis. They’re going to be reviewing people based characteristics, demographics, and housing quality,” Hart said.

The second phase beginning at the end of the month will see consultants meeting with focus groups to better understand the troubles people are having finding housing. They’ll be meeting with county and city governments, non-profit organization, employers, realtors, and contractors. In the coming weeks the housing coalition will be receiving a list of questions that czb will be asking focus groups.

“One of the reasons for the focus groups is not only to report their preliminary findings, but also to engage us in our market perceptions. When they tell us what the data is showing what they’re hoping to get back is whether or not that is the reality of the situation. Sometimes the data doesn’t reflect what we’re seeing on streets,” Hart said.

Phase three will take the data they collected and compare it with the responses they received from focus groups to create a final report.

“In that final document what they’re going to include is a description of the recent and historical trends in demographic, economic, and housing trends,” Hart.

A description of how housing issues vary in different parts of our county will also be included. Reports will let local officials know how many rental and ownership units will be available for households at all income levels, as well as the number of units needed at various rent prices to catch up with current conditions.

Coos/Curry Housing Coalition will be holding a housing summit at the Mill Casino to share the findings of the study with the community.