The Institute for Economic Development at the University of Texas San Antonio released a Strategic Housing Analysis on July 11 that focused on housing for six of the 12 core Eagle Ford Shale counties. The six counties located in the western half of play are Dimmit, Frio, LaSalle, Maverick, Webb and Zavala.
While the study only focused on the western half of the play, there will be similarities to occurrences in the eastern half of the play where Live Oak and McMullen are located.
The study has three different scenarios for how the population is expected to change based on the number of wells drilled.
“Scenario 1, with a total of 22,000 wells, the six counties will generate 14,731 transient and permanent workers of rig-related jobs within the next nine years from 2012-2020.
“Scenario 2, which is most likely to occur, will generate 7,913 transient and permanent workers of direct rig-related jobs with an estimation of 25,000 wells within the next 14 years from 2012-2025.
“Scenario 3, a hypothetical scenario, will have an estimated total of 52,000 wells.”
In all scenarios, there is a significant increase in growth and the study points out that with the predicted growth, “housing stock, public service, infrastructure and public utilities will need to be improved and expanded by allocating sufficient funds to meet the needs of a growing population.”
Preparing for the changes in population is going to take careful planning on the part of city, county and regional governments.
The planning for such population increases needs to occur sooner rather than later, the researchers said.
While the study acknowledges some of the jobs are transient jobs, so those people will be only temporary residents of a county, some of these will be permanent jobs.
With permanent jobs come the possibility of more families with school age children in a community.
The study didn’t just point out that there will be a large population increase; it also will have recommendations for counties to consider when it comes to strategic planning efforts.
“Housing types should include a combination of detached single-family units and attached multi-family units,” the study said. “In addition, mixed-use development is highly desired in the large communities. Housing needs to encompass both owner-occupied and renter-occupied units to meet the needs of the newcomers.”
It also suggested taking an inventory of available housing in the area and seeing if any of that can be utilized to fill the needs.
“The number of vacant housing units represent a strong potential if the resources for rehabilitation and home-repair programs was allocated,” the study said. “Therefore, if these vacant units become available on the market after rehabilitation, they could represent an efficient and sustainable solution.”
The solution to the housing shortage varies. The researchers who conducted the study formed four focus groups of people made up of small business owners, oil and gas employees, housing authority and city officials, area developers and local residents.
The groups were taxed with giving the researchers suggestions on how to solve the housing shortage problem.
“Participants in the focus groups suggested that these oil and gas companies should be required to provide temporary housing, semi-permanent housing, or man camps to house their workers in a more sustainable manner,” as one suggestion from a group. “These facilities could then be reused by local residents after these workers leave.”
The population growth is coming and there is nothing people can do to stop it. But if housing solutions of all kinds can be put into place now, it will help control rising rental values and home prices and ensure that there is an affordable housing solution for everyone.