Unalaska, which has one of the country’s largest fishing ports usually triples its population during peak fishing season when potential workers come to town, causing renters to struggle to find affordable housing. To add to the problem Shell is using Unalaska and the adjacent Port of Dutch Harbor in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands as launching points for exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea.
“We have a community who focuses really hard on bringing industry in and making it easy for industry to basically set up shop here,” lifelong Unalaska resident and former city council member Dennis Robinson told High Country News. But, he said, the community has “failed miserably” at making sure there is enough affordable housing for all its residents.
Once Shell was approved for exploratory drilling in the arctic, residents began to fear that more locals will be priced out of housing if the oil giant finds oil there. Moreover, after property-owners were informed Shell was drilling in the area they raised rents.
Unalaska residents, Flora Luna and her husband, had trouble finding housing 14 years ago but eventually found a place to rent.
“It’s not like I can go down the road and find something cheaper,” Luna said. “We’d love to have something smaller so we don’t pay so much, but there’s nothing available.”
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