|Abstract or Summary
- Housing is the single most important environmental factor associated with high rates of mortality and morbidity (United Nations, 2007). Most Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors, and an estimated two-thirds of that is spent in the home (Klepeis et al., 2001). Studies show a link between substandard housing and poor health outcomes (Dales, Miller, and McMullen, 1997). American rental housing tends to be of lesser quality than owner-occupied housing. According to the American Housing Survey, 11% of renter-households were categorized as having moderate to severe physical and/or structural problems, compared to just 3% of owner-occupied households (National Center for Healthy Housing, 2006). Further, renters who are members of vulnerable populations, such as low-income, minority, undocumented, or student renters, generally face worse housing conditions than their more advantaged counterparts (National Center for Healthy Housing, 2012; Johnson et al, 2009).
The City of Corvallis is home to Oregon State University (OSU). In recent years, the student population of OSU has grown rapidly and, as some have argued, unsustainably. One problem that has risen from the growth of the student population was a reduction in the availability of rental housing. The vacancy rate for rental housing dropped to rates as low as 0.1% in 2010, by one city planner's estimate (Day, 2012). This reduction in rental availability has had an impact of the quality of rental housing available to the students and low-income renters in Corvallis, with rental housing becoming more and more substandard. This MPP Essay examines this issue from a social equity perspective.