Homeless in a Boom State

Homeless in a Boom State

North Dakota is the place to be if you want to make money -- but finding a place to live is another matter. (NYT)

Joey Scott has money in his pocket and a new job in the North Dakota oil fields, but is living in his truck in a Walmart parking lot in sub-zero weather. He waits for a room in an oil company crew camp because in this town, there’s literally nowhere else to stay. As thousands of job seekers from around the country have descended on the state to work the Bakken oil fields, small towns like Williston have been unable to keep up with the needed housing.

This New York Times video follows the stories of three typical new Williston residents who have had to settle into tiny rooms, wind-blown trailer parks or, as a last resort, sleep in their vehicles. Although Scott had a job in one day, he couldn’t find a bed until his new employer provided a place in their barracks-like “man camp.” In this region, every available space is spoken for, leaving families with children, like the Stouts — who bounced from hotel to hotel for months — living in crowded rooms.

Although everyone interviewed bemoans the poor living conditions, no one wants to pass on an employment opportunity that is unavailable wherever they came from. The desolate landscape provides a background for images that are reminiscent of the Great Depression era, when desperate people were willing to do anything to get a job.

CHANNEL: New York Times

Length: 6:03

By Brent McDonald and Monica Davey


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