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'You see a place advertised, and there's 50 people that beat you there'

Studies have shown a rising need for affordable housing in Coos County and surrounding areas.

COOS COUNTY, Ore. - Studies have shown a rising need for affordable housing in Coos County and surrounding areas.

There's a special coalition that's trying to help residents that fall between wealthy and poverty lines, and it goes by "ALICE."

It's a familiar problem on the South Coast, where a limited housing market has too many people in need of an affordable place to live.

"You see a place advertised, and there's 50 people that beat you there," said Michael Prowell. "It's just a struggle because property owners...they know that they can charge what they want for rent."

This is something that Prowell experienced first hand when he moved to Coos Bay from Portland with his wife and two kids.

"We're looking at all housing and expanding it to those people who are working and have good jobs and are still unable to find housing in the area," said Prowell.

Marcia Hart, with United Way of Southern Oregon, says that people in that category make up 35 percent of Coos County's total population. She's hoping to get help from "ALICE" with a new affordable housing unit.

ALICE stands of Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed households that earn more than the federal poverty level, but less than the basic cost of living for the county.

"If you take a look at what affordable housing means, it is when you take one-third of your gross income and that's basically what you should be able to afford for housing," said Hart.

The median income in Coos County is $39,000 a year, and United Way is moving on to getting partnerships for funding. They're confident that they can reach their goal of 24 new units a year for 10 years.


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