Shale Country's Soaring Rents Are Pricing Out Locals

  • Susan Phillips

A new study says gas drilling is causing a housing crisis in rural areas of northeast and southwest Pennsylvania. An influx of higher paid gas drilling workers from out of state has led to skyrocketing rents and a shortage of rental units. Authors of the report say that as private industry rushes to build new hotels, local and regional governments need to step up and start planning. In the meantime, some residents of drilling areas are now living in tents.
“The Impact on Housing in Appalachian Pennsylvania as a Result of Marcellus Shale” was conducted by The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development, located at Wilkes University. The Appalachian Regional Commission funded the project.
The study says rents have doubled in some areas, as landlords take advantage of newer, higher paid residents in need of housing.

“Due to the influx of gas workers from other states there is a shortage of rental units. In addition, because these workers tend to earn more than local residents, they are willing to pay higher rents,” said Teri Ooms, Executive Director of The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development. “The result has been a rent increase of 100 to 150% and current tenants being forced to move out while gas workers move in.”

Ooms says in some cases, social service agents have had to separate children from their parents. And landlords who previously participated in the federal subsidized housing program known as “Section 8” are opting out and renting to gas industry workers instead. The researchers say a combination of rent stabilization programs, zoning updates and proper planning are needed to meet the new demands and avoid homelessness among the rural poor.

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