Oregon as a whole may be one of the fastest growing states in the nation, but the opposite is true for many rural communities.

The city of John Day in eastern Oregon is creating a housing district to incentivize new home construction within city limits.  

John Day has seen population decline for nearly three decades, as young people seep out of the community. Part of the problem, says city manager Nick Green, is a housing shortage. 

“Our rental vacancy rate is less than 1 percent,” Green said. 

That means employers like the local hospital can’t recruit new doctors or nurses when there’s no place for them to live. The problem led Green to launch an aggressive new housing initiative.

The city secured state funding to create a housing district. Green wants to incentivize new home building by waiving city fees. He also plans to launch a program to provide a hefty cash rebate for new home buyers.  

Other eastern and central Oregon communities like Prineville are seeing similar housing shortages.