Eastern Ohio is beginning to experience a shortage of affordable and available housing for the poor because that housing has gone to drilling company workers, says a new state report.
And that problem is likely to get worse with smaller communities being affected the most, said the Ohio Housing Finance Agency’s Office of Affordable Housing Research and Strategic Planning.
The agency, along with Ohio Development Services Agency, Ohio State University, Ohio University, the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and Columbus-based Vogt Santer Insights, has issued four commissioned reports looking at the problem.
One report looked at Carroll County southeast of Canton where the Utica shale drilling boom has led "to a strain on the existing housing infrastructure," the researchers said.
That problem is likely to expand in the next year to Stark, Tuscarawas and Columbiana counties, the authors said.
Most shale workers are temporarily in eastern Ohio and have been able to find housing in single-home rental units, local hotels, campground or other options, and there is strong resistance to developing man-camps as a new housing option, the groups said.
Communities are reluctant to invest millions of dollars on new housing, water and sewers, for a temporary population, the authors said.
That growing shortage of rental homes in eastern Ohio has left moderate and low-income residents with limited housing options, especially after rents have been hiked by landlords, the groups said.
The influx of drilling workers, limited availability of affordable housing and high housing diems for workers also contributed to the problem.
"As this drilling expands in eastern Ohio, we anticipate that additional housing shortages will take place throughout the region with smaller communities being affected the most," said Robin Stewart, project manager at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. "Additional analysis will help develop a regional strategy that ensures affordable housing options remain available for the area’s most vulnerable citizens."
Ohio State’s Mark Partridge added, "The good news is that most places with shale development are able to address housing needs for the middle class without too much disruption, though there appears to be some issues for some lower-income households as the boom begins."
The studies provide a benchmark "for further study of housing insecurity" as the drilling industry grows in Ohio, said Bill Faith of the homeless coalition..
The OU team examined the ongoing impacts of shale development on rental housing availability and cost, along with its impact on the homeless. It looked at Carroll County where the drilling has been the heaviest.
The Ohio State researchers look at the problem in eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and western New York, although no drilling has taken place yet in New York because of state-imposed moratorium.
The four reports are the first attempt to look at Utica shale impacts on housing, said OHFA executive director Doug Garver.
"As the first research efforts of its kind in the state, each report provides valuable information for policymakers to address housing needs, but also raises additional questions and the necessity to monitor housing markets in eastern Ohio," he said in a statement.
Ohio needs to develop strategies to meet the needs of Ohioans and prepare for future business investment,said David Goodman, director of ODSA.
The biggest barrier to developing housing plans is what the researchers called the "high levels of uncertainty regarding the trajectory of shale development."
The research showed that modest increases in the development of hotels and low-income housing may be warranted. However, it is imperative to continue monitoring housing availability and affordability ensure the markets can respond to housing needs as they arise.
The reports are available at www.ohiohome.org/research/multifamily.aspx.
Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.
Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.
Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.
Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.
No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.
Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.