'man camps,' manufactured housing seen giving way to neighborhoods
(COTULLA) -- Even with all the talk of man camps, overnight trailer parks and companies that book entire hotels for a year in the Eagle Ford, UTSA's latest housing study found thousands of vacancies in six counties they examined. News Radio 1200 WOAI's Joshua Cook reports.
"There're more than 11,000 vacancies in the six counties," says Dr. Azza Kamal with UTSA's Center for Urban and Regional Planning Research. She says almost half of those are inside just six towns, but are not being utilized in the rush to provide much needed housing to tens of thousands of oil field workers. "There's a lot of resources, vacancies in the housing stock," she says. "They're not being looked at."
Kamal says local leaders in the Eagle Ford Shale need to find better ways to make use of that space, both in the face of the immediate rush as well as for the long term prospects of their communities. "It's blended within the city or the town fabric. It has less cost for rehab and development," she says. "And more importantly, this is something that could be re-used after the life cycle of the oil and gas."
That contrasts with hastily constructed man camps and trailer parks that have been popping up along the fringes of communities for the last year. Local leaders hope to make these new workers and their families permanent parts of the community. Dr. Kamal suggests that connecting them geographically through these vacant spaces already in the heart of town would be a good step in that direction.
The six counties examined in the UTSA study account for only half of the Eagle Ford Shale activity. Still, between 2011 and 2025, Dr. Kamal says they can expect an influx of more than 86,000 additional permanent residents, plus whatever the transient worker population may be at that point. By that time, it's hard to imagine a vacant housing unit anywhere in the Eagle Ford.