Jump to content
House Price Crash Forum
Sign in to follow this  

Economic Crash In Oregon Boomtown

Recommended Posts

Economic crash in Oregon boomtown


Bend, Oregon was a 21st century American boomtown.
It is a beautiful place, in the high desert of central Oregon, amid mountains. The sunshine is warm, the air crisp and filled with the scent of bitterbrush and pine. Its people are gracious, their gorgeous surroundings imbuing them with a certain American languidness.
All these attributes were - in the minds of the city's ambitious planners and businessmen - what would bring the retirees and tourists flocking to Bend. To accommodate them, a boom in housing began.
Boom and bust
The population of Bend quadrupled in under 20 years - from 20,000 to 80,000. Between 2001 and 2005, the median value of a home in Bend rose by 80%. By 2005, work was getting underway on 700 new homes each month. Some of the developments are stunning: houses filled with mountain light clinging to craggy hillsides.
More than 17% of the workforce was employed in construction - far higher than the national average. In what had once been an isolated lumber and mill town, high-end restaurants and brewhouses opened. Shops selling expensive bric-a-brac bloomed. Massage therapists and hairdressers proliferated. Downtown Bend looks like a shrine to post-millenial bijou: pricey shoes, scented candles, fancy coffee. There is even a shop specialising in beachwear - despite Bend's location in the high desert.
But when the US slumped, Bend crashed. The value of a home fell 40% in under two years. And unemployment nearly quadrupled from around 4% two years ago to 15% in the summer of 2009. "Everything that Bend produced relied on the credit market", says Carolyn Eagan, an economist with the Oregon Department of Employment. "Construction materials, doors and fittings, recreational vehicles: everything depended on people being able to consume more than they could use." Now the credit has dried up, and the building of Bend has stopped. The town is dotted with developments that got underway, and then ground to a halt. They are desolate expanses of weeds, dust and discarded construction materials.
Homeless shelter
In downtown Bend, we met Dan Hardt.
Mr Hardt used to employ 20 people hanging drywall in Bend's new homes. He owned three houses of his own, and a boat. He used to go on elk-hunting trips. Now it is gone - all of it.
"When the building stopped, the lifestyle went very fast," he told us. "It's a lifestyle I don't see coming back."
Dan now lives at the Bethlehem Inn, a motel converted to an emergency homeless shelter. "Those who were living at the at the top of the heap and who have fallen to the bottom, they don't know where to go for help, they don't know how to get that help. There's anger and frustration and a sense of entitlement," says Corky Senecal, who heads emergency housing services for Neighbor Impact, and has 30 years experience of providing services for the poor.
"The middle class is where it's really been decimated," she says.
When you lose your job in America, you will receive financial aid from the government. But it is limited. Typically, an unemployed worker in Bend will get state benefits for a period of six months to a year. After that, as many in Bend are discovering, you are on your own.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest UK Debt Slave


In Astoria, where I'm emigrating to, the unemployment rate is 6.4%

Bend is not really representative of all of Oregon. It is a famously 'nuevo riche kind of town,' full of people on store clerk's wages driving Mercedes and living totally beyond their means.

Bend is one of the high growth town that has prospered hugely and expanded hugely in the last 10 years.........but of course, it was all funded on credit. Now they are paying the price.

Astoria, by comparison, is very down at heel. It looks quite shabby. But people are just more sensible and live more within their means.

Bend will survive simply because it is such a beautiful area and tourism will always keep some money flowing into town.

Edited by UK Debt Slave

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Bend is not really representative of all of Oregon.

Can't speak for Oregon, but I'm moving to Fort Worth, Texas next year - and was there about 4 months ago. I'm not saying there are not people affected by the recession, but life seems to go on as normal, and all the people I met were in jobs, and all in the private sector.

Also, there was a report in the Guardian last week where the guy was following the old Route 66, and started in Tulsa Oklahoma. My other halfs family are from there, and said the area he highlighted has always been rough / poor and was in no way representative of 'normal' life.

Journos altering the facts to fit a story - whodathunkit...

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • The Prime Minister stated that there were three Brexit options available to the UK:   288 members have voted

    1. 1. Which of the Prime Minister's options would you choose?

      • Leave with the negotiated deal
      • Remain
      • Leave with no deal

    Please sign in or register to vote in this poll. View topic


Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.