Deputies visit "man camps" in Odessa and Midland, Texas - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Deputies visit "man camps" in Odessa and Midland, Texas

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Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Deputies recently visited a community in Texas where oil and gas activity has created a construction boom and, therefore, temporary worker housing facilities have been built.

A two man delegation from the Calcasieu Sheriff's Department traveled to Midland -- Odessa to continue their research on employee worker villages that some people call man camps.

Lieutenant Robbie Broussard and Commander Matt Vezinot seem to agree well-run camps fill a need.

"The problem is we don't have the housing.  Studies that have been done here say we don't have enough apartment complexes, we don't have enough houses for sale, we don't have enough rental units.  So, what is the alternative?  Do we want them in travel trailers set up in people's front yards?," said Vezinot.

"Before they started building the man camps they had companies that went in and bought apartment complexes and then told everybody to get out," said Broussard. 

The deputies saw different types of housing  from trailer parks to planned developments to accommodate workers who might otherwise have nowhere to stay.  Broussard says such construction booms have a dramatic effect on the housing market.

"The price of a two bedroom apartment was about $600 a month.  Now it's running twelve to fifteen hundred dollars a month," said Broussard. 

Their research focuses on public safety issues.

"Traffic is always number one," said Vezinot. "Because people are in and out.  In and out.  And they just don't have the infrastructure for it."

Vezinot says while crime increases, it's attributed to more people, not worker housing.

Law enforcement in Odessa- Midland told local deputies one problem is not enough to do for younger workers.  But they don't expect that to be a problem here.

"Louisiana's a sportsman's paradise.  They can go hunting, they can go fishing.  We're two hours from Houston and Houston's the fourth largest city in the nation," said Broussard.

As deputies prepare for an influx of workers they wonder if perhaps there are advantages to having them in groups rather than scattered about. Regardless their effort is to plan for what's ahead.  

Deputies say one difference is that the Odessa - Midland, Texas worker villages had only two to three hundred people apiece.   There is one proposed in Southwest Louisiana designed to house up to four thousand.

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