Senate Hearing Focuses On Housing Shortage In Marcellus Shale Drilling Areas
The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee held a public hearing this week to seek further input on the impact the emerging natural gas industry is having on housing in Northcentral Pennsylvania.
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) serves as Majority Chair and Sen. Shirley Kitchen (D-Philadelphia) serves as Minority Chair.
Among those who testified were representatives of landlords' associations, Realtors, housing organizations and energy companies. Sen. Yaw said the hearing was a follow-up to a related meeting that was held earlier this year in Towanda.
"Since that meeting, it has become clear that the housing situation continues to be a concern for local residents, particularly low- to moderate-income families, senior citizens and those seeking affordable rental properties," Sen. Yaw said. "The housing market in the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania simply hasn't been able to keep pace with the influx of new workers and their families who are coming here as a result of the Marcellus Shale play."
Sen. Yaw said those testifying agreed that the booming industry is placing an ever-increasing demand on the limited availability of rental housing. Because many of the incoming gas industry workers have a higher ability to pay for housing, rents have skyrocketed – in some cases doubling or tripling – and fewer rentals are available.
"This creates a serious problem for local residents, especially those who rent," Sen. Yaw said. "Supply and demand has caused families to be displaced when their leases run out, and in some cases forced to live in substandard housing because they have been priced out of the rental market."
A number of those testifying recommended that legislators and state officials develop a long-term planning process as a response to the housing shortage, particularly since other areas of the state where Marcellus Shale is being discovered will be impacted. They said the state must work with counties and municipalities to determine how they can meet housing and infrastructure needs.
"The Marcellus Shale industry has brought jobs and economic development to our area at a time when many communities are struggling," Sen. Yaw said. "Our goal is to ensure that as the industry grows, our municipalities can provide the resources and infrastructure needed to accommodate both new workers and current residents."
Testimony from the hearing is available online.
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