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Homeless oil boomers sleep on church pews

Surging boomtown population finds help to head back home

Added on Wednesday, January 16, 2013

We spotlighted the growing population and increased need resulting from the Williston, North Dakota, oil boom in our 2012 edition of Northern Highlights (See the article “Officers ‘Embracing the Crazy’ in Oil Boomtown” on page 17).

Now CNN.com has published a story about the crisis that surrounds the high numbers of people who have come to North Dakota. Even though finding a job is fairly easy – the unemployment rate is less than one percent – it’s the spiking housing costs that make it difficult to put down roots. The fact that the nearest homeless shelter is more than 200 miles away in Bismarck only complicates matters, with many sleeping in their cars or at a local church that opened its doors.

As the CNN.com article explains, sometimes the best solution is for job seekers to head home. If people want to return home, The Salvation Army  in Williston is now able to provide up to $80 in assistance toward gas vouchers, a one-way bus or train ticket, or flight home. Churches in the area help supplement any additional funds needed to reunite oil boomers with their family and hometown, wherever that may be. Read the full CNN.com article.