Homeless squatters in Casper, Wyoming, have caused significant damage to a local motel, leaving behind a trail of destruction and a dire sanitation crisis in the downtown area. Casper, the second-most populous city in Wyoming, with just under 60,000 residents, finds itself grappling with a homeless population of approximately 200 individuals, according to Mayor Bruce Knell.
The Econo Lodge motel, previously closed due to flooding, became a target for homeless individuals who moved in and left behind a staggering repair bill running into millions of dollars. Mayor Knell, visibly distraught by the situation, described the aftermath as “like nothing I’ve ever seen” and likened it to “third-world-country stuff happening in Casper, Wyoming.” He emphasized the hazardous conditions left behind by the squatters, stating that the motel had become uninhabitable and unsafe.
The motel’s ownership had transitioned to a bank following foreclosure, and the property had to be boarded up to mitigate further damage. Meanwhile, downtown Casper faced an entirely different crisis, with reports of squatters leaving at least 500 pounds of human feces in public areas, raising significant health concerns for the community.
Mayor Knell acknowledged the complexity of the issue, recognizing that litigation or arrests alone wouldn’t resolve the problem. However, he stressed the need for law enforcement to have more tools at their disposal to address squatting-related issues that have been causing disruptions and problems for the city.
Casper’s city council is now contemplating the adoption of a new code that would require suspected squatters to obtain written consent from property owners and impose time limits on camping on a property, regardless of permission.
In addressing the broader issue of homelessness, Mayor Knell pointed out that the local homeless shelter wasn’t the source of the problem. Instead, he attributed the challenges to homeless individuals who had either been expelled from the shelter or were unable to access it, leading them to defy societal rules and regulations. He noted that some within the homeless population struggled with issues like substance abuse and mental illness, which hindered their ability to conform to society’s norms.
Furthermore, Mayor Knell empathized with the homeless population’s desire for stable housing, emphasizing that many individuals, both in Casper and along the West Coast, yearned for a place they could call their own.
In conclusion, Casper, Wyoming, is facing an unprecedented crisis resulting from homeless squatters wreaking havoc in the community. The extensive damage to the Econo Lodge motel and the sanitation issues in the downtown area have prompted local authorities to consider new regulations to address squatting problems.