The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

Local Housing Crunch: It's Real And It's Documented


Something that may not be a shock to some is that housing in Glasgow may be hard to come by. The Growth Policy Glasgow has developed shows that there is a lack in affordable housing in the area.

Key findings in the report show that in 2010 around 85 percent of housing in Glasgow was built prior to 1976. The percentage of home ownership was also lower here than in the state and nation. Glasgow’s rate of ownership is at 63.2 percent, while the state sits at 68 percent and the nation at 65.1 percent.

Another number found in the report shows that 78 percent of the housing is for single family dwellings, compared to 18 percent for multi-family units. Many of the houses around town were built during the boom of the old Air Force base, between 1950 and 1979.

Several interviews were used in the report from key figures in the community. DJ&A, P.C., developed the report for the city and used surveys and census information to come up with a realistic view of the city and it’s needs. Housing was just a small portion of the full report, but the topic was seen over and over again in interviews from people in the city.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce Director Lisa Olk said that low income housing, like that in Northern Heights, is needed in the area. She explained that home prices on the market have gone up.

“A year ago was when we had the huge housing crunch,” Olk said.

She explained that they had calls coming in almost daily from people looking for rentals and housing. The chamber developed a list of renters and Realtors in the area for folks coming in and asking for some assistance.

Why was there a housing “crunch” in the last year? Well, spillover from the Bakken had made its way to Glasgow. A flood of people coming into Sidney and Williston had filled up all the available housing. There was also work going on at the Fort Peck Dam, where workers came in to fix erosion and damage from the previous year’s flooding.

Chris Helland, a Realtor in the area who also sits on the board for Two Rivers, agreed with the past year being the toughest for housing in Glasgow. He explained that the reason problems in Glasgow had been lifted a little in the present had to do with $100 million going into multi-family housing units, as well as Williston and Sidney catching up on some of their housing needs. The Rundle Building was also transformed into housing, and that is where many of the railroad workers are currently residing.

While some things have caught up, there’s still a gap in affordable housing. Northern Heights usually has a long waiting list of families hoping to find affordable housing. St. Marie’s population has nearly doubled over the last year, as many two and three bedroom dwellings are available at lower prices.

The Growth Policy shows that there is a housing cost burden – families that pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing. That burden is actually smaller than across the nation and the state. Only 19 percent of families are facing that burden, while the state faces 29.7 percent and the nation 41.52 percent.

“There’s a shortage of houses under $100,000,” Helland said. “Anything $130,000 and under is selling in 30 to 60 days; there’s just not a lot available.”

Building new housing may not be feasible for developers without a guarantee that the population would grow and there would always be a need for more dwellings. Helland explained that a two to three bedroom apartment costs nearly $120,000 to develop, and rent prices would have to priced too high for the area, around $1,100 to $1,200 a month. Developing housing can be a gamble in Glasgow, as the distance from the Bakken could still be too great for families moving to the north.

Other worries in the are are about the pipeline coming through, which could create another housing problem. Olk explained that housing would not be a problem, and that man camps would be constructed near Nashua and Hinsdale to deal with the new flow of workers. Olk said a bigger need could be development of more hotels, as several hotel rooms are filled up with workers – and that can create issues during events and celebrations.

Renters coming to Glasgow are finding a gridlock while searching for housing. While the 2010 census data showed 61 dwellings, or 10 percent, of the housing vacant, that number in the last year looked more like 1.1 percent, or 11 homes vacant.

While the city met to gather information for the Growth Policy, a housing focus group took a close look at housing needs and possible plans and goals for the city to tackle the problem.

Creating affordable and quality housing and eliminating dilapidated structures was a priority.

Trying to develop more affordable housing and finding ways to encourage renovations and new construction for affordable housing and finding land for development were at the top of the list.


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