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Gas counties

As oil and gas exploration expands in Ohio's Eastern Counties, a shortage of units and an influx of workers is causing a rent squeeze for low income households

Background on quiet crisis
  • Where are the gas counties?  Gas and oil exploration
    and drilling in Ohio began about 5 years ago in Carroll county.  Since then the focus of attention has slowly drifted south and west.  Thanks to Ohio.com for the map.
  • Why aren't elected officials addressing this issue? There are many reasons why housing prices have not caught the attention of local elected officials
    • Local government has been focused has been on jobs, truck traffic/road maintenance, law enforcement.
    • Tenants have not been good advocates for their interests (see below).
    • Most elected officials have no experience with housing development because these counties have been in a 50 year cycle of population loss.
  • What tenants are protected from rent price inflation?  Tenants who live in housing where rents are capped are somewhat protected against market driven rent increases.  Examples would be public housing, privately owned S8 housing, USDA Section 515 housing and Low Income Housing Tax Credit Housing.  see here.  
  • It's not just rent, it's space.  Patricia on the OVRA Facebook page writes "Having a hard time finding a lot in Ohio, trailer has to be moved so land owner can turn property into an RV lots so he can get $500 a lot off the gas and oil workers."   Sometimes in rural communities finding space for new housing can be a challenge.  Last year New Philadelphia banned placing RVs in service in backyards.  New developments may require extending water lines. 
  • Why is the story of the rent crisis ignored? The Youngstown Vindicator, the Akron Beacon Journal and the Canton Repository try to cover local stories, but only the Repository has boots on the ground...and only in part of the region.  Smaller papers have often erected pay walls and made use of G/O Industry based subscription services as supplements to local reporting.  Here's an example.   The stories featured in this rhino!UP story are examples of independent reporting in the area.
  • Why aren't tenants and advocates more outspoken?  There's an Appalachian culture of personal responsibilities that tends to view social problems as individual needs.  Therefore advocates are quick to blame "greedy landlords" and property owners quick to tell homeseekers "get a job that pays better" Meanwhile the problem is really systemic (supply and demand) and require social changes to rebalance the market forces.
  • What can be done? Ten years ago, facing an emerging gas and oil boom in the Marcellus Shale, the state of Pennsylvania used taxes on industry to expand the number of low income houses in impacted communities.  Changes in Federal subsidy programs could help too.  More money to preserve existing USDA developments and expanded budget for Housing Choice Vouchers could preserve and expand affordable units without any new construction.
  • Where can I learn more?  Gas Counties Stories is a twice weekly review of local impact and public policy stories.  Also check out Ohio Valley Renters Advocates Facebook Page
 


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