The Corner

North Dakota in the News

I had North Dakota marked down as a possible bolt-hole, but it looks like the state might fill up before I get there.

North Dakota has a novel problem: plenty of jobs, but nowhere to put the people who hold them.

The same forces that have resulted in more homelessness elsewhere – unemployment, foreclosure, economic misery – have pushed laid off workers from California, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan and Wyoming to abundant jobs here, especially in the booming oil fields.

But in this city rising from the long empty stretches of North Dakota, hundreds are sleeping in their cars or living in motel rooms, pup tents and tiny campers meant for weekend getaways in warmer climes. They are staying on cots in offices and in sleeping bags in the concrete basements of people they barely know.

Lots of luck in that pup tent when the winter comes down from Canada and the thermometer hits 40 below.

When I was a kid, England had a terrific housing shortage, due to (a) housing stock destroyed by wartime bombing, and (b) the postwar baby boom. The solution was prefabs. There was a big estate of them near us. Some of my classmates were born and raised in prefabs. Incredibly, some of those WW2-era prefabs are still inhabited. I remember them as being pretty nice.


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