Enid is growing. It’s population is on the rise thanks to the oil and gas industry, and its importance as an agricultural center. In fact, the city is expected to add 1,700 more jobs over the next two years. All good news, right?
Except there’s really no place for new residents to live. Enid has been experiencing a housing shortage since 2008, when, as The Journal Record‘s Molly M. Fleming reports, more than 100 homes were built in Garfield County:
Since then, the market has dropped to more than 90 in 2009 to approximately 50 homes in 2011 and a mere 30 homes in 2012.
And the shortage is not the result of the national decline in the housing market. Just the opposite, actually. The local economy is too good.
Local builder and Realtor David Ritchie told The Journal Record the rates local contractors can command from oil and gas companies price many others out of building.
“If you use local trades — and probably the vast majority up here do use local trades — it will cost you more to build up here,” he said.
He said the low unemployment rate has left little availability for people to fill construction jobs. And now with the sudden housing demand in Moore, the situation will likely not improve.
“Most of my major crews come out of Mustang, Yukon or Oklahoma City,” he said. “It’s cheaper for me to pay the people to drive up here than to hire people locally.”
Enid has also lost nearly half of its speculation home builders in the last few years, with some moving from a residential to commercial focus. And considering the boom and bust cycles of the area, Ritchie isn’t optimistic about meeting the housing need anytime soon:
“We don’t have anyone up here that has the financial wherewithal to build,” Ritchie said. “The banks up here — everyone up here that has survived — at one time or another has almost failed. Most of the metropolitan banks don’t want to lend up here. …Everyone learned their lesson in the 1980s and the early 90s and they haven’t forgotten.”
But Enid Regional Economic Development Alliance Executive Director Brent Kisling isn’t as fatalistic. Last week, his group announced it would create a housing task force to look at the cost of construction, review city ordinances, and recruit home builders:
“Just looking at the numbers and response we’ve gotten since last Thursday has been overwhelming. There’s a renewed interest in building houses in Enid.”