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If there is one problem that Klamath County residents should work together to solve, it’s lack of housing.

Many economic development observers have been sending up flares warning that impending growth for the Basin could be short-lived without adequate housing; and not just for the well-to-do, but for all our citizens.

In his short time as head of the Klamath County Economic Development Association, Randy Cox has said repeatedly this is the biggest issue facing the county.

Local Realtor and President of Coldwell Banker Holman Premier Realty, Randy Shaw repeats that in today’s H&N story on real estate sales.

The City of Klamath Falls has appointed a committee of experts, including Shaw, to explore ways of financing more housing and bringing in more developers and contractors for housing.

Sit in on any local coffee klatch and the top two topics are jobs and housing.

It’s a crisis that’s not on the horizon, it’s here.

Shaw says the need is to convince banks to invest in development. He’s not seeing that yet, and he can’t put his finger on why. It may be a hangover from the last recession and there’s economists out there warning of an impending one.

Shaw thinks recession talk is over blown. Last month the economy added 330,000 jobs alone.

The need is real

There are a few local ma and pa groups that are repairing older homes and flipping them, and they are turning out a decent product, Shaw said. But the large-scale developers are absent.

A recent study of housing needs by a Portland group determined that the shortage in Klamath Falls is about 360 homes. It’s actually double that, says Shaw.

The critical need will be for pilots and servicemen expected at Kingsley Air National Guard base in the next few of years; some 450 of them. Shaw believes without housing — just as lack of commercial air service — the base’s operations here are threatened.

Sky Lake Medical Center’s doctor recruiting ability is hamstrung by inadequate housing.

Oregon Health and Sciences University is building a satellite campus to train doctors, nurses and rural health care providers. Those students will rotate in and out of the city and will need housing.

Oregon Institute of Technology is building a new engineering center in hopes of growing its student body to 5,000 in 10 years. Those students will need housing.

Klamath Community College is seeing an uptick in students, too, and is building a trades center to help bridge the gap in skilled labor to do what? Build homes.

On top of that, there’s the proposed Jordan Cove pipeline and the Klamath River dam-removal project set to start in the next few years. The Basin could be exploding with workers and nowhere to keep them.

Shaw also noted that a few families from the tragic Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., have left there to live here. Northern California is ripe for retirees to leave with enough cash in hand to buy inexpensive real estate in Klamath County.

It’s a perfect storm. The key is to be ready for it.

Much like the groups who came together to attract commercial air service, the Basin needs its movers and shakers to step up and bring real estate investment here and fast, before this opportunity passes us by.

Members of the Herald and News editorial board are Publisher Mark Dobie, Editor and General Manager Gerry O’Brien, who wrote this editorial. Community advisers to the editorial board are Bill Jennings, Sergio Cisneros, Jenine Stuedli, Tracey Liskey and Ernie Palmer. Community advisers may not always agree with the editorial stands taken, but act as advisers.

Gerry OBrien, Editor