WILLISTON, N.D. — Researchers said Williams County’s population and housing needs continue to grow at one of the fastest rates in the nation despite the oil industry’s slowdown.

The North Dakota Center for Social Research predicted that Williston’s population will increase to 37,500 in about 15 years, creating the need for 46 percent more housing.

The Williston Herald (http://bit.ly/2cQre7q ) reported that the city was the first stop Monday on a statewide series of discussions created to share future growth scenarios across North Dakota.

Nancy Hodur, an assistant research professor at the center, said making predictions for Williston is challenging in light of the dramatic swings the city has seen in its housing needs.

“Now all of a sudden you have vacant housing,” said Hodur. “The tricky thing about saying you have a surplus of housing, is maybe you have too many $325,000 houses when what you need is houses for $125,000.”

Williston’s housing units totaled slightly more than 14,200 in 2014. That number is expected to increase to 20,900 by 2029. The combined region of Williams, McKenzie and Divied counties is estimated to see a 67 percent increase by 2029, increasing by 30,000 people.

The projected growth rate showed the future market to be made up largely of low-income families, seniors and first-time home buyers.

Information from: Williston Herald, http://www.willistonherald.com