Oil Boom Housing Crunch Forces North Dakota to Assist Its State Employees

An oil rig near Williston, North Dakota.

An oil rig near Williston, North Dakota. Tom Reichner / Shutterstock.com

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Energy workers aren’t the only ones with high rent. State workers are feeling the financial pain, too.

Earlier this year, a report that found that the nation’s highest average rent for a one-bedroom apartment was in Williston, North Dakota, took many big-city dwellers outside the state by surprise.

But it’s the reality for residents and oil workers in western North Dakota, the heart of the Bakken energy boom. In Williston, with a population of roughly 15,000 residents, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment was $2,394 per month while the average rent in San Jose, California, in the heart of expensive Silicon Valley was $1,881 per month.

Leaders in Williston established an affordable housing committee to figure out ways to ease the crunch and the state, according to the Williston Herald, created a special fund to build affordable apartments for local workers.

But what about state government workers who are detailed to the oil-rich but expensive western part of the state?

Members of North Dakota’s Emergency Commission OK’d a $2.3 million expenditure on Monday that will help those state workers cover their housing expenses and give them temporary salary increases.

As The Bismark Tribune reports:

The dollars, paid $500 per month per employee, are to be used for housing rental assistance and temporary salary increases for state employees. Funds were requested by eligible agencies with staff working in the western part of the state, where an ongoing housing crunch and rising wages have made it difficult to recruit and maintain employees.

According to the minutes from Monday’s commission meeting, the state’s Department of Transportation will get the largest portion of the funds ($1,041,042) followed by the Department of Human Services ($835,790), Highway Patrol ($158,722), Industrial Commission ($130,000), Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ($105,198), Game and Fish Department ($22,512), Tax Department ($21,000) and the State Historical Society ($13,752).

(Photo by Tom Reichner / Shutterstock.com)

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