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North Dakota: Home to the Wealthy Homeless

Oil Boom Offers Jobs but No Room to Live

By Brianna Panzica
Monday, October 24th, 2011

In North Dakota, job seekers can make $100,000 a year with overtime and bonuses.

People are swarming to this oil boom state looking for work, and nearly everyone is finding it.

Williston, North Dakota is one of these cities situated on the Bakken formation, a deposit that is estimated to hold between 4 billion and 24 billion barrels of oil, reports the International Business Times.

Over 6,000 people have flocked to the state in search of jobs recently, the article reports, yet many of them cannot find homes.

The 2010 census reported that the population of the city is 14,716, says the Times, and with this new influx of workers there is little room for them to stay.

CNN tells several stories of these workers – people who have doubled or tripled their salaries yet are either homeless or living in poor conditions.

A man the article calls Matt told CNN that he has been living in his RV in a Walmart parking lot.  He was transferred from Walmart in Minnesota over the summer, where his salary spiked.

Another family is living in a campground, having moved from a home with a yard to their yard-less RV, they told CNN.

The oil companies have been trying to help out the workers – without this manpower, the oil extraction would be much less efficient.

Some of the companies, the article reports, have rented out sections of hotels or apartment complexes, and many are also building low-budget housing around the areas for their workers.

This type of housing has been dubbed “man camps,” and though it’s cheap it is far from ideal.

Benjamin Lukes told CNN of his experience in these “man camps,” where he pays $400 a month for the space plus housekeeping and three meals a day.

And yet he equates the space to a “prison cell” and he hasn’t been able to bring his family to Williston with him, having no place for them to stay.

Unemployment in the state is 3.5%, one of the lowest in the country.  And yet even the wealthy workers are homeless.

That's all for now,


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