While North Dakota officials like to brag about the economic impact of the oil and gas industry in their state, there’s also a dirty little secret. The number of homeless people in the state has increased over the last year, thanks to the industry.
Jeannie Messall, director of the Missouri Valley Coalition for Homeless People said people see the news of the oil and gas boom and think there are plenty of oilpatch jobs.
“The jobs are here but they can’t afford to live here,” she told the Associated Press. “They find out that $12 an hour doesn’t quite cut it and they don’t have the funding to go back to where they were from.”
In late January, volunteers counted 331 homeless people, up from the 216 unsheltered homeless in January of 2016. However, the numbers are still below the 1,395 homeless in 2013 when the Bakken oil boom hit.
Single, white men make up the majority of the homeless population in North Dakota, which had more than 15,000 unfilled jobs at the end of last month and a jobless rate of less than 3 percent, Job Service North Dakota data show.