The Real Cost of Housing in Portland

Nearly 9 months ago, the Press Herald reported some alarming news from Zillow about housing costs in Portland, ME:

The real estate data firm Zillow said Tuesday that prices nationally climbed a seasonally adjusted 4.3 percent in May from a year ago. Rents still are rising at double-digit rates in Denver, San Francisco and San Jose, California, with their job opportunities drawing new residents at a faster pace than construction can match.

But two smaller cities led the gains in May. Houses in the Mississippi capital of Jackson are renting monthly for $1,169, a 22.7 percent yearly increase. On the northeastern end of the United States, rental prices in Portland have shot up 17.4 percent.

Portland officials have recognized the affordability problem and pushed for development of more housing in the city.

Locally, this article received a lot of attention, especially from renters concerned they could be priced out of the city when their lease ended.

The news story has become a frequent reference point over the last year for residents as well as city officials, concerned with the growing housing crisis in the city.

What kind of data is available to help us understand and verify these claims, and are there other trends that would benefit city residents to be aware of?

By analyzing data from the Portland Assessors database, I hope to find some of the answers to share with you here.