If you follow Governor Kasich on Twitter, you may have seen this rather positive-sounding headline he shared:
What has the Governor so excited? The article in question, “Shale credited for housing market uptick” (Warren Tribune Chronicle, February 12, 2012), highlights an increase in the price of rental housing near Carroll County fracking wells. The reason? So many out-of-state workers are arriving in the area to work on the oil and gas wells, that hotels are full and workers armed with company-funded housing allowances are now driving up the prices of rentals.
”We have had an increased number of calls from companies and individuals coming in to work in the area,” he said. ”The greatest demand is for rental properties, but a lot of them are looking for month-to-month leases.”
While this is great news for landlords, it’s terrible if you are a local resident searching for affordable housing. This is actually something we warned about in our report, “Fairness, Fracking and the Future,” citing the experiences of Pennsylvania, itself the site of a recent shale boom:
The increased demand for housing has driven up rent in rural areas, which, in turn, has displaced many long-time residents. Areas that saw few homeless people have experienced a sudden increase in family homelessness and in families doubling or tripling up in their living quarters.
Does Kasich’s enthusiastic tweet mean that he now supports the use of imported labor on the fracking wells? In public, the Governor repeatedly decries the use of “foreigners” (workers from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and elsewhere) for this work. But this housing boom he is now promoting is a direct result of workers arriving from outside the area for temporary work. In our report, we propose a “Hire Ohio” policy, in which the state creates incentives to companies that hire and/or train Ohio workers. Other than ranting against “foreigners,” we have not yet seen a proposal from the Governor on how Ohio can stem the tide of out of state workers.
We’ve said that Ohio policymakers have to do the hard work of ensuring that Ohio communities and residents benefit from the shale boom and not simply act as cheerleaders for the industry from the sidelines. So far, we are not encouraged.