Middle-income workers are finding it increasingly hard to find affordable housing in Portland, a new report says.

The report by the Greater Portland Council of Governments says current housing construction in the city is not aimed at those who earn 80 percent to 100 percent of the median income for the region, which is about $36,000 a year. At that income level, a household could afford rent of $911 a month, the report says, while the median rent in Portland is now $1,183.

Jeff Levine, the city’s director of planning and urban development, said Portland’s wealthy and poor are fairly well served by the housing market, but median earners are often priced out.

There’s a growing disparity in how well the city’s income groups are served, he said.

The report concludes that while Portland remains an attractive market for developers, the result hasn’t been an increase in affordable units.

“New construction is well beyond the means of the middle class,” the report says. “From 2010 to 2014, 1,130 housing units were permitted and/or built in Portland … (and) just 29 percent were offered at a rent or sales price affordable to a household earning the median income. If robust growth continues, Portland will continue to lose the affordability of its housing stock.”

The report said the gap between demand for “workforce housing units” and the supply will range from 24 percent to 33 percent by 2030.

The picture of an overheated rental market in Portland was bolstered this week at the annual Maine Real Estate and Development Association conference in Portland.

Brit Vitalius, president of the Southern Maine Landlord Association and principal of the Vitalius Real Estate Group, said the Portland market picked up sharply last year, particularly at the high end of the market. Rents are shooting up, Vitalius said, with increases of 8 percent to 12 percent in 2014.

Vitalius said the high-end rental market has been focused on Munjoy Hill, and is now spilling into other neighborhoods on the peninsula, pushing up rents there and further pricing median-income earners out of those markets.

The old rule of thumb for developers, Vitalius said, was that the cost of new multifamily housing was about $65,000 per unit. Now, it’s as much as $100,000 a unit. As those costs rise, he said, it’s harder for developers to offer affordable rental units and more attractive for them to focus on the wealthier end of the market.

The report says the city could use several tools to correct the imbalance, including density bonuses to encourage developers to build more affordable units, or a requirement that new developments set aside a percentage of units to be rented at rates that are affordable for middle-income earners.

Other options include a reduction in the number of parking spaces required for any new development, to lower construction costs, or rent controls to force landlords to make apartments more affordable.

Levine said those remedies have been used successfully in other cities that have faced affordability gaps, but Chris Hall, chief executive officer of the Portland Regional Chamber, argued against putting excessive demands on developers.

“Taxes are something you use to make (something) go away,” Hall said.

Incentives, he said, are best for encouraging developers to provide more affordable housing.

Hall said the chamber agrees that the housing affordability problem is real, and it has been a “red flag” for years in the chamber’s assessment of Portland’s economy.

He said incentives, including allowing developers to build higher-density units in exchange for more affordable housing, would be a positive approach. “I think they’ve got some promising stuff to work with here,” he said.

Levine said the report supplies a lot of data that his department can use to craft policies to recommend to the City Council.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]