Earning Six Figures, and Homeless?

CNNMoney reports over 6,000 people have come to Williston, ND to take advantage of the oil boomtown money to be made, but available housing has not kept up with demand. Some are living in their vehicles in parking lots, some in tents, some sleep in sleeping bags beside the road. Modular dormitories, called “man camps”, have been constructed: Benjamin Lukes has a 160 square foot room, metal-framed twin bed, fluorescent lighting, long, bare hallways and three meals a day including housekeeping for $400 a month, and he earns $100,000 a year, three times what he made in Minnesota He misses his wife and two children, but there is no available housing. His employer, Halliburton, one of the drilling and fracturing companies, imported Olympic village housing units from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. (In a Daily Business News report Feb. 28, 2011, we reported that some modular housing from the Winter Olympics now houses homeless and disabled people in Saanich, British Columbia, Canada.) A local hotel has offered Lukes a suite for $6,700 a month. “Each work cycle as I drive away seeing my two-year-old daughter’s face in the window, I wonder how much longer I can keep this up,” he says. “In the meantime, though, I keep getting promotions, and raises, and bonuses. It’s a mixed blessing.” Another couple with two children and three dogs moved from Washington to take advantage of a $20 an hour truck driving job. They live in an RV in a Williston campground. Former professional football player Jarvis Green and his company are building a 500 person “camp” just south of Williston, and expect to make 200-300 percent profit. He says, “Out there they don’t have a recession…. It’s the place to be.”

(Photo credit: CNNMoney)


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