This article appeared in yesterday’s paper and was also highlighted across the national news.

The rapidly growing North Dakota oil patch city of Williston, North Dakota has the highest average rent in the United States, a national study from an apartment renting guide shows.

A 700-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in Williston costs an average of $2,394 a month, according to an online website for apartment hunters.  The same apartment would cost $1,504 in the New York area, $1,411 in the Los Angeles area, and $1,537 in the Boston area.

The population of Williston, which is located in the northwest corner of the state not far from the Montana border, has more than doubled since the 2010 Census, with estimates of more than 30,000 people now within the city’s limits.

The city and developers have lagged behind the influx of oil field workers, whose sometimes six-figure salaries can bear inflated rent and have caused a shakeup in housing supply and demand.

Dickinson, North Dakota, which is also located in the Bakken oil patch ranks fourth on the list, at an average of $1,733 a month.  Boston was listed at sixth, New York City was listed at seventh, and Los Angeles was listed at eighth.

Williston city officials recently established an Affordable Housing Committee to look at how the community can encourage more developers to build with reasonable rental rates and home prices.  The state has created the Housing Incentive Fund, which provides dollar-for-dollar tax breaks for donations to help build affordable apartment units for essential workers.

The interesting or maybe I should say, alarming thing about this article is the statement in the article that states that the six-figure salaries can bear the inflated rent.  This occurrence is driven by one thought and that is “greed” pure and simple.  This is not a story of crowning development of our natural resources, but rather one of just how much money is being earned by the oil companies at the total disregard of the harm that also comes with this so-called bonanza.

What this article fails to mention is the number of poor, lower income, and elderly people who have been forced out of their local communities due to over inflated rents.  What is an elderly retiree, who lives on social security and maybe a small pension or retirement, going to do when they are told that their rent that was $ 425.00 a month is going up next month to $ 1700.00 a month?  That is what has happened numerous times over the last two and three years, in town and cities across western North Dakota and eastern Montana.  No one know the true extent of just how many people have been forced out of this area to having to relocate to an place where they can afford to live.

The other sad thing is that it is not just rent that has quadrupled in price, the price for food and all other goods has also increased, with no end in sight.  Just to give you a comparison, a gallon of 2% milk, in most places outside of the oil patch, is approximately around $ 3.50.  If you were to purchase that same gallon of milk, in the little town of Beach, North Dakota; it will cost you $ 6.00.

So much for economic development…while many landowners have hit it rich, the vast majority of North Dakota and Montana citizens has not personally profited from this oil boom and for many it has been more harmful than good.  Just another example of big business profiting, while the little guy takes it in the pocket book or maybe even the shorts.

 

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