energy boom

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A program that helps victims of domestic violence is increasingly having trouble finding safe places for people to stay because of an energy boom that has filled all the housing options in the area. Converse Hope Center Director Lisa Thalken said recently, when a woman sought their help, they couldn't find anywhere to put her.

Melodie Edwards

It's freezing outside as Terry Short smokes a cigarette under a hotel's awning near downtown Douglas. He's wearing a Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt, his hometown team.

"For the most part it's as nice little sleepy town that you know generally doesn't have a whole lot of chaos," Short said.

Short is an oil field worker for a company called Gunslinger. Today is his day off, but normally he would be out in the field doing inspections or survey work. Short is far from the only worker of his kind in the area. He said folks get a daily per diem from companies to live on. The housing strategies are diverse and often focused on saving. 

Melodie Edwards

This story is part of a two-part series on the effects of the Converse County energy boom on housing in Douglas. 

I knock on the door of an apartment in the one and only income-restricted apartment complex in Douglas. 29-year-old Elise shows me in. Petite with long dark hair and a friendly smile, she gives me a tour of the small apartment she shares with her two children. We're not using her last name to protect her from retaliation. I notice a sign on the living room wall that says, "Home Sweet Home," and for Elise, a home has never been so sweet as this one. About eighteen months ago, Elise left an abusive relationship with her children's father.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

What is the best way to manage your money if you live in a boom and bust economy?

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Stephanie Joyce

It’s lunchtime in Douglas, Wyoming and the line of cars at the McDonald’s drive-thru wraps around the building. A hiring poster hangs in the window and the parking lot is full. Leaning out the window of his black pick-up truck, Troy Hilbish says he had no idea oil prices have fallen more than a quarter in recent months. But he knows what falling oil prices mean. 

“If the oil prices go up, we drill more," he says. "If they go down, we don't drill as much.”

Jordan Giese

As the Oil City Casper has seen its fate is closely tied with the energy industry and the recent boom in production is seeing Casper's population expand at an astounding rate. One thing not expanding fast enough however is affordable housing. Wyoming Public Radio's Jordan Giese reports.

JORDAN GIESE: Despite new commercial development one thing in Casper you'll struggle to find are for-sale and rent signs. With all the new energy work, people have poured into Casper, sometimes leaving little for the residents already there.

Jordan Wirfs-Brock

A continuing energy boom in the Rocky Mountains and Northern Great Plains is reshaping the future of what’s powering America, and we’re launching a new reporting project to keep track of that.

Through Inside Energy, we’re teaming up with public radio and television stations in Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota to explore the complex energy issues affecting our lives.

The three states are feeling this new energy economy differently, and it’s changing political realities in different ways.

WYOMING

When there’s an energy boom, it usually brings an influx of workers into the area. And that leads to more demand for housing. That’s great for landlords who are looking to rent out their properties. But as some communities in Wyoming are finding, oil and gas drilling can actually be a problem for people who are looking to sell. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

WILLOW BELDEN: Rhonda Holdbrook owns a real estate firm in Douglas, and she’s exceptionally busy these days. Oil production in Converse County is booming, and energy workers have flocked to town.