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  A State With Plenty of Jobs but Few Places to Live
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Last Editedparticleman  Apr 21, 2010 11:17pm
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MediaNewspaper - New York Times
News DateThursday, April 22, 2010 05:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionWhen Joey Scott arrived here recently from Montana, he had no trouble finding work — he signed almost immediately with a company working to drill in the oil fields. But finding housing was another matter.

North Dakota has a novel problem: plenty of jobs, but nowhere to put the people who hold them.

The same forces that have resulted in more homelessness elsewhere — unemployment, foreclosure, economic misery — have pushed laid off workers from California, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan and Wyoming to abundant jobs here, especially in the booming oil fields.

“I don’t know,” said Mr. Koeser, whose city had about 12,000 people at last count, but may now be closer to 15,000. “We literally have no place.”

Cranes dot the city, proof that a building boom is under way, but not fast enough.

In one of the least populated states in the nation, this sudden overcrowding has upended some axioms of ordinary life. “It’s a horrible way to live,” said Chris Rosmus, a Minnesotan who moved into the Vegas Motel for a month and stayed a year and a half.

If the problems are bad for oil workers, who are well paid, they are worse for locals in less lucrative jobs, who have seen their rents soar.

There are still some houses for sale here, but many of the newcomers arrive from grim chapters — foreclosures, bankruptcies, layoffs. They have little hope of qualifying for mortgages.

For all of these struggles, few here say they wish to go back to where they came from.
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