In the community

Malheur County, Ontario added population over the past year, report shows

ONTARIO – Malheur County and Ontario grew in population the past year, according to statistics recently released by Portland State University.
The county grew by 451 people since July 2022 to reach a total population of 32,981, a 1.39% increase. That made Malheur County among the 10 fastest growing counties in the state.
Morrow County grew the most of eastern Oregon counties at 3.26% to 13,007 in 2023.
Meanwhile Ontario expanded by 188 people to 12,206, a growth rate of 1.6%
Vale added just six residents in the past year, reaching a population of 1,947 in July 2023.
Nyssa’s population stayed the same at 3,363 people while Adrian dropped by two people – from 161 to 159.
Ontario’s growth was about in line with the number of new houses and other subsidized housing in town, said Dan Cummings, Ontario city manager.
Cummings said two major housing complexes – River Bend Place and a 70-unit townhouse – are full. He also said in the past year about 25 single-family homes were built in Ontario.
“The housing is there for that many,” he said.
Cummings said he believed some of the influx of people was because of the attractive nature of Oregon’s benefits, including subsidized housing.
That is a Catch-22 for the city, said Cummings. On one hand, he said, officials understand the need for homes and want people to live in stable, affordable houses or townhouses. But that comes at a cost to the city.
“Subsidized housing doesn’t pay property taxes,” he said.
The city, he said, depends on property taxes to provide curial services such as fire and police coverage.
Tom Vialpando, Vale mayor, said he wants to see the city’s population grow.
“I am more concerned about being prepared for growth,” he said.
Vialpando said if the Grassy Mountain gold mine is approved, that would boost Vale’s population. The mine operators are still going through a lengthy state permitting process.
“I most definitely think our city is going to grow and we are preparing for growth. We are getting some of our infrastructure fixed,” he said.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

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