Scrambling to Fund and Build Housing for Shale Boom Workers

"The drilling industry boom in places like Washington County [Pennsylvania] has squeezed the housing market, especially among those looking for lower-priced apartments and homes," reports Stephanie Ritenbaugh.

Ritenbaugh quotes Bryce Maretzki, director of strategic planning and policy for the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency [PHFA], who explains that the impact on housing from the Marcellus Shale industry has evolved with time:

"At the beginning, there were a lot of people coming from out of state that were looking for hotels, short-term housing and rentals…That has matured, and now more Pennsylvania residents are in the Marcellus workforce. The income they’re getting is higher, and they’re looking for new housing or renovated housing."

In an effort to improve the availability and affordability of housing in the Marcellus region, the PHFA last week announced a third round of funding—$9.6 million made available to eligible projects. $5 million of that funding will be "generated from fees for wells drilled in 2013, using a formula based on the price of natural gas and other factors." The rest will come through a provision in Act 13, the state’s oil and gas law. "Under the law, municipalities get a portion of the money generated from the shale impact fee. Anything greater than 50 percent of their municipal budget or greater than $500,000 goes to the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement to address housing needs."

Full Story: Shale boom means real estate inventory is low and prices are rising

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