Wyoming’s homeless population continues to grow, despite sharp drop in chronic homelessness wyoming news trib.com wd gaster theme

I concur with side oiler on Gillette.When I worked the oil patch there back in the 1960’s there was little to no place to live…motels had long waiting lists…trailer courts had numerous people living like rats in trailers…and RV parks were few and far between…there was no fancy RV’s like in today’s world.Many of us slept in our cars..in winter.Gillette may be hunky dory now…but back in those dark times it really was a #### hole. I know many of you transplants worked in coal mines later on will never believe me…but there are many around that remember what that town was like back then.Oil and gas drilling is what gave the broke back ranchers in Campbell County the hand out they wanted to get ahead,many bought new farm equipment,new trucks and built nice houses…and the race was on after coal took over.The problem in Wyoming was always lack of affordable housing for transient workers,with Wyoming’s archaic boom and bust cycles,no one wanted to be stuck with empty housing or apartments when workers left for Texas.So you all can crow about Wyoming’s glorious times,but the dark ages will always be there.

These numbers are low and there is a much bigger problem. There are homeless families with children in this count. Little children, not just the homeless teens you want to ignore. And…there is a difference between temporarily homeless and chronically homeless.

"These People" are you and me. They once had jobs, families and a life. Most are not homeless because they choose to be or made a bad decision. They were injured, are mentally ill, lost a job or suffered some terrible loss. Many of the women are victims of domestic violence and yes, some people suffer from addiction. Are they homeless because of addiction, or do they have an addiction problem because they suffer from homelessness? This is the biggest unanswered question.

It doesn’t take very long on the street to lose the ability to function in society. They live in survival mode. They forget what behavior is ‘acceptable’, when they can only focus on staying alive. Finding a place to rest, get a shower or even use the bathroom is a daily struggle. They are also veterans and other veterans do not have much sympathy for them because they consider them to be failures. They are embarrassed and humbled because society considers them to have no value.

People are frustrated and angry with them because ‘one time’ they gave a man $20 for gas and saw the man again, the next day. It felt so good to be able to help, but it didn’t change a life, which was their expectation. What they did not realize is that all homeless are not the same and $20 buys a meal, not a home or the services needed to change a life.

Most are from Wyoming. I’ve never met a homeless person who woke up one day and said, "I think I’ll catch a ride to Casper, Wyoming, where it’s dangerously cold, the wind is terrible, the mission is overcrowded and you have to prove you’re a resident, to get help." I have met many who are from another town in Wyoming, where the only place to spend the night is the county jail, and yes, many small towns in Wyoming send their homeless to Casper. Oh, there is always a few who come through and the panhandlers you see at Walmart, are just that, panhandlers, and are passing through. But you knew that, didn’t you??

There is HOPE! I see people who are able to make it out. Who will teach you about the kind of person you want to be. It is not easy and seldom does it work the first time, but life is hard and they are tough. Most of us wouldn’t last a week in their shoes.

Next time you really want to help, drive by the panhandlers and go to the Mission, Seton House or Interfaith or better yet, spend a day in my office at the Casper Housing Authority. Volunteer with one of the agencies who are down on the ground, every day, not just during the holidays. Get involved, donate, educate yourself and next time you see a homeless person, say hello and realize one thing.

Yes, people spending money is the source of all homelessness, how dare those people use their income in a way that increases their happiness, those evil people. The government could do SUCH a better job with their money, we need to confiscate all the rich people‘s wealth and have the government distribute it, that’s so much a better system. I mean that way we can all be equal in misery. California’s huge expenditures on the homeless have been 100% successful and government solves all problems, if only we were like California. And YEAH the price of housing is soooooo high in Wyoming, I mean in Gillette 75% of Sleepy Hollow, is vacant unsold housing, and of course those evil real estate agents are keeping the prices high to keep people homeless. In Laramie there’s not even any houses in the old parts of town worth 300K+, but I’m sure they’re only worth like 25K but it’s the evil real estate agents and rich people ruining everything. We need to stop these evil rich people, everyone knows all rich people steal their money from hardworking americans, they don’t earn it, their graduate degrees and 70+ hour work weeks DEFINITELY don’t deserve wages that are higher then a janitor. The proletariat does all the work and the rich capitalist exploits their surpluses and drinks the blood of their children, RISE UP, EAT THE RICH.