Struggling to pay rent

30% of Lane County renters spend more than 50% of their income on rent

In Eugene that number is 36% and in Springfield 22%. This “severe rent burden” leaves little money for basic needs including food, child care, transportation, healthcare and taxes. When money is tight, food is often the first thing people cut back on.

Many of the people who rely on FOOD for Lane County have jobs but still don’t make enough to pay their bills. 37% of Lane County households can’t afford basics needs (living at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level).

In November, we met with 12 residents of Cornerstone Community Housing in Eugene. Cornerstone provides quality, affordable housing for people living on limited incomes and partners with FFLC to provide food and nutrition education to its residents.

The group talked about stretching limited household budgets, the challenges they face accessing nutritious and sufficient food for themselves and their families, having to choose which bills to pay and the high costs of housing and healthcare. They described how they puzzle together services and resources to get through the month — food stamps, food boxes, meals at FFLC’s Dining Room and income from work, disability insurance and social security.

Chris is a Eugene native who recently moved back to Eugene from North Carolina with his wife.

“Our biggest expense is rent,” said Chris. “We’re making just enough not to be homeless. When you get behind there’s no real way to come back from that. You live with this constant cloud over your head.”

“It seems like poor people are an easy target in this country when it comes to cutting corners,” added Chris. “We always seem to put that burden on the poorest among us. It seems like when you’re poor or when you’re behind, things stack up and get you more poor and more behind.”

Lane County Housing Needs