Washington PA Prefers Dilapidated Bldg to “Transient” Shale Workers

There’s a real eyesore in downtown Washington, PA–a building that brings down the neighborhood. Even though the building is a blight for the entire area, it remains standing due to prejudice on the part of local residents, including a local Catholic church. There was a plan to renovate a former, run-down convent and turn it into a boarding house for Marcellus Shale workers in Washington, PA. We previously chronicled City Council’s opposition to the project (see Washington, PA Votes to Reject Marcellus Boarding House). We also chronicled the shameful opposition of Rev. William Feeney and the Immaculate Conception church across the street from their denomination’s abandoned convent–opposed to the plan because it might attract “transients” to the neighborhood (see Marcellus Prejudice on Display at Washington, PA Church). We were reminded by a recent letter to the editor in a Washington, PA newspaper that the abandoned convent is still there, still a blight, still an eyesore–bringing down the entire neighborhood. All because of prejudice…
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Tiny Houses: Answer to Affordable Housing in Active M-U Area?

We have to confess this story is purely for amusement purposes–ours and yours. In our daily trawl of the news related to “Marcellus Shale” we spotted this headline: “Group hopes to add tiny houses to Wheeling Island.” We thought, What in the world do tiny houses on Wheeling Island (Wheeling, WV) have to do with the Marcellus? So we read the article to find out. Anyone watching HGTV has, at one point or another, watched a program about “tiny houses.” There’s even an HGTV show called Tiny House Hunters. “Tiny houses” are actual stick-built homes that are under 500 square feet of living space. Think really-small efficiency apartment. Except it’s a real house–sort of. The average American home is 1,780 square feet of living space. (If you’re not familiar with the tiny house movement, read this Wikipedia entry.) So what do tiny houses in Wheeling, WV have to do with the Marcellus? A group in Wheeling believes tiny houses on Wheeling Island is a viable solution for affordable housing. You see, the Marcellus/Utica has successfully employed a lot of people in the region–and a lot of new people have moved in, sopping up available apartments, homes, and trailers. There’s a bit of a housing shortage due to an abundance of Marcellus workers. The group in Wheeling thinks they have the solution: sell a bunch of tiny houses on Wheeling Island…
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Big New Housing Complex Planned Near Shell Ethane Cracker

Positive economic signs continue to pop up with respect to Shell’s multi-billion dollar ethane cracker project in Beaver County, PA. Here’s the latest major economic impact from the project. A local developer has filed for a state grant to build a massive new housing project 2.5 miles from the cracker site. The new project calls for 450 housing units, retail space, a golf course, swimming pool and parking garage. What’s that? What happens after the cracker is built and the “temporary” workers, who would be living in this new complex for the next 5-10 years, leave? Great question! Answer: Turn it into a retirement community…
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UMH Snaps Up More PA/OH Trailer Parks, Targeting M-U Workers

You don’t often hear about a company that owns trailer parks as being a publicly-held company (trading shares of stock on the New York Stock Exchange). But such is the case with New Jersey-based real estate investment company, UMH Properties, Inc. We’ve written about UMH a number of times before (see our UMH stories here). Why? Because they keep buying trailer parks in the Marcellus/Utica with the express hope that drilling activity in the region will lead to high occupancy rates. They’ve just done it again. Last week UMH closed on two more trailer parks in Ohio, and yesterday they closed on purchasing another park in Pennsylvania. Their target seems to be workers in the shale industry. Their strategy is working…
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WV Social Worker Claims Marcellus Drilling Causes Homelessness

Lisa Badia, executive director of the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless “can’t be certain how many homeless people dwell in Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties,” but she is certain that part (much?) of the homeless problem is caused by Marcellus/Utica Shale drilling. Yep, sinking a hole in the ground causes homelessness. How? According to Badia, when drilling came to town 4-5 years ago, a bunch of out-of-staters showed up to work on drilling rigs (and for pipeline companies, etc.). Those out-of-staters began paying sky-high rental rates for apartments and trailers, driving up the price of rental housing throughout the region. And when that happened, folks on welfare could no longer afford to pay the rent (with our taxpayer money). If it’s a decision between booze and cigs or rent, you know what goes! So those po’ folk ended up sleeping on heating grates–because of that nasty, awful fossil fuel drilling…
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40 PA Housing Projects Funded in Marcellus Region w/Marcellus Money

phfaWhen drilling comes to town, it brings a lot of people with it. Some of them are roughnecks that do the dirty work on the rigs. Others are in associated jobs–like landmen, surveyors, welders, truckers. The list goes on. If those people are not from the local area and if they are staying for a while, they need a place to sleep. It tends to fill up hotels and B&Bs quickly. When they know they will be in an area for a while (months, even years) some of them rent apartments or houses. All of that renting activity tends to drive up the price of local apartment and house rentals, making renting hard for locals. It’s happened in a number of drilling areas in Pennsylvania. That’s why when the Act 13 law was passed, it contained funding from severance tax revenue to help. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency recently announced they have approved another $6.2 million for 40 housing projects in Marcellus areas…
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Study: Lower Mortgage Defaults, Higher FICO Scores in PA Marcellus

trending-down.jpgThe benefits of shale energy are almost too numerous to list. Contrary to the ninny nannies who spit and spout and preen about yelling the sky is falling if we frack one more well–the OPPOSITE is the truth. Shale is GREAT for America, in so many ways. Channeling our inner Donald Trump, “It’s very very great. So great you won’t believe how great it is. You’re gonna love it!” Here’s just one more way shale is great. A researcher from Clemson University (in South Carolina) poured over mortgage data for the state of Pennsylvania. As you know, not all of PA is blessed with being located in the Marcellus Shale–but much of it is. The intrepid Clemson researcher found in reviewing records from 2004 to 2011 that those with mortgages who live in areas where there is Marcellus Shale defaulted on those mortgages 58% LESS than the statewide average. That is, shale means there’s more money to pay bills, a mortgage being one of them. Might we say that the Marcellus can literally save the family farm? Yes, we can say it, and back it up with data! The Clemson researcher also found living in a shale region boosts your FICO credit score…
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Marcellus/Utica is “Winning Strategy” for Trailer Park Company

UMH Properties logoA company we’ve written about for the past few years is UMH Properties–a New Jersey-based real estate company that keeps snapping up trailer parks in the Marcellus/Utica region (see our UMH Properties stories here). Although the drilling industry in the Marcellus/Utica has been in a slump, you wouldn’t know it from the performance of UMH. The company specifically credits the Marcellus/Utica with its stellar performance in the second quarter of 2016. Highlights of 2Q16 for UMH include: rental and related income up 25 percent; community net operating income up 33 percent; and home sales up 72.4 percent. The company’s decision to focus its expansion in areas where energy development has created high demand for affordable housing, like the northeast, is paying off big-time…
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PHFA Seeks Requests to Fund Housing Projects in PA Marcellus

PHFA logoListen up Pennsylvania communities with shale drilling: The PA Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) wants to hear from you with proposals for improving the “availability and affordability of housing in the Marcellus Shale region of the state.” The PHFA is back for a second year in a row with $5 million from impact fee revenue to spread around in communities affected by shale drilling (see last year’s story: PHFA Looking to Build Low Income Housing in Marcellus Region). We sometimes read stories complaining that housing is scarce and rents for apartments in shale areas are driving local welfare recipients to other regions of the state where it’s cheaper to pay rent. Here’s your chance to keep the slugs–er, a–low income folks in your own area…
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Marcellus/Utica Keeps Trailer Park Operator Busy AND Profitable

UMH Properties logoWe occasionally write about a New Jersey-based real estate investment company, UMH Properties, Inc., because they keep buying trailer parks in the Marcellus/Utica with the express hope that drilling activity in the region will lead to high occupancy rates (see our UMH stories here). You might think with the rapid slowdown in drilling UMH’s strategy is in peril. But you would be wrong. Net income for the company was up 165%–from $718,517 in the first quarter of 2015 to $1,906,469 in 1Q16. How can that be? Samuel Landy, president and CEO of UMH, says that the abundance of cheap shale gas has improved the economic lives of people living in their trailer parks. He also said even though there’s less drilling, there’s more pipeline work going on and in those areas UMH’s trailer parks have strong demand. The future looks bright for UMH–thanks to hitching its wagon to the Marcellus/Utica…
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SWPA Hotel Owners Catering to Marcellus Auctions Properties

auction-gavel.jpgSince 2012 MDN has had our eye on a “feel good” story–about a physician who immigrated from India to Bentleyville, PA and his son. The Gosais (doctor father and son) took to investing in hotels in western PA (they began building them in 2000). With the fracking boom, the Gosais began to cater to the Marcellus industry (see Hotel in Rural Western PA Makes it Big from Marcellus/Utica; Marcellus Workers First to Get Studio 6 Motel in PA; and Washington County, PA Hotelier Adapts to Serve Drilling Industry). But then the market turned and it turned fast. In a not-so-happy ending, the Gosais have put several of their hotels on the auction block…
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Trailer Park Company Credits Marcellus/Utica for Record Profits

A company we’ve written about for the past few years is UMH Properties–a real estate company that keeps snapping up trailer parks in the Marcellus/Utica region (see our UMH Properties stories here). UMH is a public company with shares of stock. Therefore, it files quarterly and annual reports, and hosts analyst conference calls. MDN picked through the latest from UMH to find some interesting quotes. In essence, UMH still loves the Marcellus/Utica and will continue to look for new acquisitions in our neck of the woods. The company made $14 million last year (in the black). So you see, not everyone in the Marcellus/Utica is going through tough times. Here’s a few select quotes from the annual report and from the UMH earnings phone call with analysts…
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Extra Couple $ Million? Buy a Trailer Park in the Marcellus/Utica

From time to time MDN highlights the investments made by the publicly traded company UMH Properties, a New Jersey-based real estate investment company that buys up trailer parks (see our list of stories here). They’ve paid millions of dollars to buy trailer parks in the northeast. Why? Because those parks are located in the Marcellus/Utica Shale region. That is their stated reason. UMH says in their quarterly earnings call with investors and analysts that the Marcellus and Utica continue to drive their development decisions. We don’t know why, but we find this fascinating. Here are excerpts from the UMH conference call with analysts last week…
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Rural Belmont County, OH Gets Another New Hotel – in St Clairsville

St. Clairsville with a population of just over 5,000 is the county seat for rural Belmont County, OH. Small villages like St. Clairsville typically have a handful of stores and other businesses. It’s highly unusual for a small town like St. Clairsville to score a major new hotel–but it just has, thanks to the Utica Shale. Belmont County is in the epicenter for the sweet spot in the Utica Shale. Even with drilling scaling back from low prices, there is still plenty of activity–especially in Belmont County. Commonwealth Hotels yesterday announced the opening of the newly constructed 92-room Candlewood Suites St Clairsville. Located at Mall Ring Road, the Candlewood Suites is the newest hotel in the region, conveniently located near I-70…
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RV Parks Pop Up in Ohio Valley for “Transient” Shale Workers

Although drilling activity has slowed in many locations in the Marcellus/Utica Shale region, in some places it just keeps booming. Like Belmont and Monroe counties in Ohio. How do we know? Just take a look at the rise of “Oil City” located right next to the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville (Belmont County), OH. Oil City has 120 RVs and campers–all of them workers in the Utica and Marcellus gas fields. They are “transients” in the sense that new workers come in as other workers leave. Some are even from (gasp) “foreign” locations like Texas and Oklahoma (see OH Gov. Kasich Continues Trash Talk Out-of-State Workers). The words transient and foreigner are used by some as a pejorative to denigrate hard-working oilfield workers, blaming them for rowdiness and even for spreading STDs (see Is There a Link Between Fracking & STDs in Ohio?). How are oilfield transients perceived by the locals in the Ohio Valley area? A Monroe County official said this about the 350 transient oilfield workers living in RV parks in his county: “We’ve received little to no negative feedback. Most of them seem to work long hours, so they aren’t around all that much. They fit in pretty well.” So much for those who object to “foreigners” and “transients”…
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PHFA Looking to Build Low Income Housing in Marcellus Region

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) plans to use some of the $5 million they’re getting from the Marcellus Shale impact fee to fix up or build new low income housing projects in areas where there is Marcellus Shale drilling activity. The premise is that because of drilling, either people from outside of the area–or Pennsylvanians themselves–have snapped up apartments and houses in active drilling areas, driving up housing prices to the point that poor folks just can’t afford it anymore. The PHFA answer is to build or renovate housing projects and make them available to low income families/individuals…
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