Lack of workers, pricey housing still issues on coast

In some cases, people working on the coast have slept in cars or tents

A help wanted sign posted on the door of a boutique, file. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

SEASIDE, Ore. (KOIN) — Cities along the Oregon coast are facing a major crisis: Businesses are trying to hire workers, but the cost of living is too high.

It’s been an ongoing issue for years that has even forced some coastal businesses to shut their doors.

“A big concern that we always have is our staffing levels,” Andy Mercer, who owns Maggie on the Prom, told KOIN 6 News. “And being able to find housing for those that want to come over and work.”

Mercer said some potential employees have offered to stay in RVs until they find other housing. In some cases, people working on the coast have slept in cars or tents.

“It’s been an issue for several years,” Keven Leahy with Clatsop County Economic Development Resources said. “Over the last 10 years, the unemployment rate has grown about 15% and our housing has only grown about 5%.”

Leahy says it’s not just a seasonal issue and remains a problem year-round.

Recently, Astoria city leaders passed an ordinance that allows people to set up Accessory Dwelling Units and rent to long-term residents. It’s just one of many projects that could help put an end to the labor and housing crisis on the coast.

“We are looking to work with the developer, working with each community,” Leahy said. “We find that a project-based approach, if you have one success you can build upon that, versus getting a bunch of people together in a room and just talking.”

Leahy said county leaders will work with developers until a solution is found.