Housing is a common topic of discussion in Grand Forks. Many questions surround the topic, too many in fact. As a frequent contributor to the Jarrod Thomas program (1310 AM Grand Forks), I receive a fair share of these questions. For every question I answer, or attempt to answer, it seems like two take its place. All this because, as I maintained throughout these last few years, we are not asking appropriately defined questions.
The big story for North Dakota is not just about oil in western North Dakota, it is about the adjustments to the underlying economic dynamics in the state. Consider the situation of labor markets in two North Dakota cities, Williston and Grand Forks. These data are for the Williston micropolitan area and the Grand Forks metropolitan area from 1997 to the end of 2013.
I am working on some technical support for my positions regarding housing in Grand Forks but I will take a moment to reiterate that position here. Nobody illustrated to my satisfaction that Grand Forks ever had a housing “crisis.” Could there be circumstances where the types of housing available did not meet the particular demands of the people in the market? Sure. Could it be that builders focused on certain types of building which meant others types did not see new construction? You bet. Does any of this mean the market outcome is bad? No!
The last several months saw a great deal of public outcry about the housing situation in Grand Forks. This was something of a spaghetti argument: Let’s throw a whole host of issues against the wall and something will stick. Topics included the affordability of housing, the availability of housing, the quality of housing, and so on.