The Housing Crisis Grows in Rural Idaho

The state’s smaller communities are feeling the pressure of sharply rising housing costs, stagnating wages, and an aging population.

1 minute read

August 15, 2023, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Distant view of Lewiston, Idaho nestled in green hills against cloudy blue sky

Nez Perce County, Idaho, home to Lewiston (pictured here), faces one of the state’s biggest unmet needs for rental housing. | knowlesgallery / Adobe Stock

Idaho’s housing woes extend beyond its urban centers, writes Laura Guido in Boise Dev. “While there is certainly a significant issue regarding supply, demand and lack of affordability in these areas, the vast majority of Idaho is rural and those residents are also feeling the pressure,” according to a housing assessment report completed for the Clearwater Economic Development Association in 2022.

Guido points out that similar trends—“lack of housing options, getting squeezed out by people moving in from more expensive areas, aging populations, and wages that have not kept pace with housing prices”—affect all parts of the state, which grew faster than any other between 2019 and 2020.

The large number of retirees looking to downsize their homes is putting them in competition with first-time homebuyers for smaller, more affordable homes, while high housing costs are driving workers far from their jobs. Meanwhile, wages stagnated as housing costs shot up. “The 2022 housing assessment report also found that the region was ‘desperate’ for rentals, both market rate and subsidized.”

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