North Dakota is currently facing a difficult challenge in it’s housing industry. After a frenzied drilling surge which began in 2006, with rising oil prices making a widespread haul on the economy. This would not be the first time in North Dakota’s history where a booming oil industry has activated a rising real estate market. The first oil strike came to North Dakota in 1953 inspiring the outpour of workers, and leaving municipalities in debt. So why isn’t the state of North Dakota threading carefully around it’s housing market after reflecting on history?
High incidences of fracking in the area has also contributed to the oil and now dwindling real estate glut. Due to a high administration of fracking, a process which forces water, sand and chemicals wn a well to crack rocks which release crude oil, inaccurate predictions were made on the sustainability of the production process and the robust tax bases which could be incurred for decades.
News of the surge went national, and led to a stream of laborers streaming in from many states looking for work. The laborers arrived in temporary settlements, in the form of cars,shacks and even chicken coops . Some laborers found housing assistance through energy companies in the area, working in the day and sleeping in man made camps at night. up to 12,00 housing units were approved for construction by the Williams County commissioners.
Though these conditions were deplorable, the general agreement was that they would be temporary settlements, an interim solution to a growing state problem, till the completion of apartment complexes in the area. To facilitate the development of these housing projects, the state government and civic leaders partnered to accelerate hundreds of housing permits, borrowing tens of millions of dollars to install new sewage and water systems. This sent the state government into serious debt, with a whooping $144 Million still outstanding.
As oil prices continually drop, concerns over the viability of this housing and the oil production industry in North Dakota remain unwavering.
A commissioner in Williams County, Dan Kalil commented on the crisis saying, “ We are overbuilt.” He added, “ I am concerned about having hundreds of $200-a- month apartments in the future.”
The onset of this dwindling housing market has incited lawmakers to toughen zoning laws in preventing the future creation of colonies within the state. The state is drawing up initiatives to force remaining oil workers who were on the housing list into already built homes. This initiative may prove fault, as critics point out that vacancy numbers have increased with more migrants abandoning their jobs and heading home.
To learn more about the North Dakota housing crisis, visit this article by Bloomberg