Can Oregon Sustain its Growing Population?
This year, Oregon’s population reached a milestone of 4 million inhabitants. Because of this, housing costs have increased dramatically, with an 18 percent increase over the past year, and the average family home costing $521,250. Most people are moving into Portland’s suburbs, such as Lake Oswego, West Linn and Newberg, and these have encountered a 10 percent increase in housing costs in Oct. 2015.
According to Expatistan, a website dedicated to collecting data and estimating the cost of living, in Portland alone, monthly rent for a studio apartment can range from $924 to $1,262. A fully furnished accommodation is from $1,361 to $1,745, depending on the area. Utilities for two people in a flat can cost $165, or $97 for one person. This means on average, the least someone can rent a flat in Portland for is $1,021, not counting living expenses or extra luxuries. This is only 12% cheaper than living in Seattle, or 34% cheaper than New York City.
“An additional challenge with population growth in Oregon will be managing the environmental impacts of increased housing needs, transportation and recreation,” Dottie Knecht said. Knecht is the sole teacher for a new class at South this year which encourages students to care about the Earth and learn ways to keep the planet stable for the next generations.
Though Oregon is Forbes #2 ranked state for eco-friendliness, and Portland the #1 city for sustainability, the rising population could change that. With overpopulation comes longer commutes, the average American spends 100 hours per year commuting, the loss of air quality and natural light as well as the wasting of more fossils fuels.
“I think it is sad, but inevitable,” Brandon Miller ‘16 said. “As the global population continues to grow, there are bound to be issues with housing and accommodation. Portland has always been relatively small compared to other cities like Seattle or New York City and many people would like to keep it that way.”
Oregon was the most targeted destination for movers in 2014, with 66% of all Oregon movers moving into Oregon, rather than out of it. This exponentially growing population comes with many environmental, social and financial issues, specifically in food, energy and housing prices growing alongside the population.
A large concentration of people in one area also results in problems with animals. In September 2015, Ashland, Oregon began to experience problems with “aggressive” deer. According to reports, they stalked Mayor John Stromberg, chased a family down a carpark, and stampeded a senior citizen in her carpark. Dozens of people attended Deer Summit 2015, to the point that Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that only standing room was available in the courthouse. The phenomenon was attributed to the deer becoming too comfortable around people. There were only approximately 300 deer to the city’s 20,000 residents.
Last year’s drought can also be partially attributed to the overpopulation problem, according to Kathie Dello, the Deputy Director of the Oregon Climate Office. Combined with climate change and increasing greenhouse gases, Oregon did not receive as much snowfall as in previous years. This led to a smaller amount of melted snow being deposited into rivers and streams, resulting in drought.