Sublette County Housing Needs Assessment
Document reviews concern about the cost and availability of housing in Sublette County
February 23, 2008
“Sublette County, Wyoming, is the location of some of the nation’s largest natural gas fields. Development of these fields has grown rapidly during the last few years, leading to rapid growth within the county,” begins a new study done by Collins Planning Associates. The company was hired by the Sublette County Commissioners to examine the dynamics of the county’s housing market. The commissioners were particularly interested in two issues: whether there is a shortage of housing and, if so, how that shortage affects different facets of the housing market. If shortages or other problems were identified, the commissioners also asked Collins Planning Associates to suggest policy initiatives local government might take to address those problems.
Below are comments from the report:
Gas field development and the demand for conventional housing
The number of direct and indirect employees estimated to be in the County in 2007 represents 41% of the permanent workforce. But not all of these workers are vying for conventional housing. A majority of the gas field development workers live in various types of non-traditional housing.
A 2006 survey completed for the Sublette Socioeconomic Task Group estimated that on average employees of the gas industry included 500 who were housed in man camps, 300 in occupied motel rooms, and another 200 in RVs. Since the survey, the “Haliburton Hotel” has added another 100 motel rooms exclusively for its workers, and EnCana plans to increase its man camp to house an additional 120. For 2007, when workers living in non-traditional housing are removed from the total number of interim workers ( i.e. those workers filling gas field development jobs, but will likely leave Sublette when those jobs end), the remaining 1,280 are competing with long-term residents for conventional housing in the local market.
The Sublette County housing market, however, has a long history of providing sufficient housing to meet the community’s demand, and except during the natural gas boom, housing has been affordable to the local population. While the current affordability problems are real, they appear to be a result of a rapid and temporary population increase and do not reflect permanent elements of the market.
Developers and possible Affordable Housing Requirements
“Requirements that developers provide a certain amount of affordable housing through “inclusionary zoning” or “linkage requirements” are legitimate responses when a housing market demonstrates extraordinary and permanent constraints that prevent housing from remaining affordable to the population. Because the long-term history of a stable and affordable market in Sublette County and the short-term nature of the current housing trend do not support mandatory housing requirements, it is not recommended that affordable housing requirements be considered.”
Click on the links below for a copy of the new report.
Sublette County Needs Assessment - On the Sublette County website (Collins Planning Associates, February, 2008, 24 pages, 6.56MB)
Sublette County Housing Needs Assessment - (Collins Planning Associates, February, 2008, 24 pages, 994K) Same document as above link, only smaller in file size. Use this if the link above disappears or if you want to have a smaller version of the document to download.
www.sublette-se.org - Sublette County Socioeconomics website