City is becoming more affluent, older

By ERIC A HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Gentrification – the process by which urban or blighted areas are gradually reshaped to more middle-class tastes, and push out lower-income families  – is generally thought of as a big city problem, but a draft report prepared to inform the revitalization of River Road North depicts something like gentrification already happening in Keizer.

The city has drafts of the current study, which focuses on River Road North posted on its website, www.keizer.org, but information included in the reports cover various aspects of the city as a whole and show how Keizer is becoming a more affluent place and a less attainable address than it was in the past.

Keizer recently surpassed Lake Oswego to become Oregon’s 13th most populous city. Its growth in the past 18 years is roughly equal to that experienced in Salem and Marion County as a whole. However, Keizer has far outpaced all the surrounding areas in terms of income growth. The median income of a Keizer household is $52,000 compared to $43,500 in Salem and $45,600 in Marion County. The data is based off the 2010 U.S. Census with updates using other inputs. Portland-based Otak and Angelo Planning Group are compiling the statistics.

The number of households making less than $25,000 has dropped 5 percent since 2000, and the number of even moderate-income households is decreasing steadily. In the past 18 years, the number of households making less than $75,000 is declining rapidly while the growth of households making $100,000 or more is steadily increasing. Both trends are projected to continue for at least the next five years.

The housing market is also being strained as a result of skewed growth. Lower-income families typically are only finding residences in the southeastern portions of the city where more rental properties are found. Coupled with meteoric rises in rental rates – more than 50 percent in the past five years – even those spaces could become a less attainable option.

In the most recent data the report surveys, Keizer had only a one-month supply of available housing inventory while a six-month supply is considered balanced. In addition, Keizer is expected to need 4,500 new housing units to accommodate growth through 2033, and construction of new homes still hasn’t returned to pre-Recession levels. Growth in most types of construction is hampered by a lack of space to expand, which is likely to put a renewed emphasis on whether and how to expand the Urban Growth Boundary Keizer shares with Salem.

In terms of jobs, Keizer is more of a bedroom community than ever. There are approximately 15,500 workers living in the city and only 6,500 jobs. Only about 1,300 residents (20 percent) live and work within city limits. The biggest growth industries in the past decade have been in health care and social services and retail while construction jobs have suffered the most, a 5 percent drop. Health care and social assistance jobs and professional and business services are expected to be the biggest growth areas in the next 15 years.

Keizer is also aging quickly. The number of households in the range of 55 to 64 years old grew 4 percent in the last four years and households with adult 65 or older grew 9 percent in the same time period. Those trends coincide with aging of the oldest in the Baby Boom generation.