- Associated Press - Friday, February 28, 2014

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - As the western North Dakota oil patch hub of Williston grows, so does the amount of money the city needs to subsidize housing for city employees.

City workers get $500 per month for housing, and the total went from $643,000 in 2012 to $1.2 million last year, the Williston Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1loXIXz ).

“It’s just going to continue to grow unless the rents start to moderate to some degree,” City Commissioner Brad Bekkedahl said. “I don’t see it being less than $1.5 million this year.”

The oil boom has led to a housing crunch as people have flocked to the region in search of high-paying jobs. A national study from an apartment renting guide recently found that Williston had the highest average rent in the U.S., at nearly $2,400 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. The amount is higher than New York City’s and Los Angeles’ average rates.

Williston plans to seek more state money for housing subsidies, which currently are funded with a mix of state funds and city sales tax revenue. The 2013 Legislature gave Williston $60 million for essential housing projects, but the city has about $300 million in needs, according to Bekkedahl.

“As long as we’re identified as the highest rent community in the state, this will continue,” City Auditor John Kautzman said.

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Information from: Williston Herald, http://www.willistonherald.com

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