Frank Fang | The Epoch Times
A city in Wyoming has been overwhelmed with a growing number of homeless people, who have damaged a local hotel that would require millions of dollars to fix and left hundreds of pounds of human feces in the downtown area, according to its mayor.
Casper Mayor Bruce Knell, in an interview with local news media Cowboy State Daily published on Aug. 31, said the city’s homeless population had topped about 200 people, creating “a mess” as they roam the city’s parks and streets.
“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s third-world country stuff happening in Casper, Wyoming,” Mr. Knell said.
“They destroyed everything,” he added. “It’s horrible.”
Casper is Wyoming’s second most populous city, with a population of nearly 60,000, second behind the state’s capital, Cheyenne.
According to the mayor, the city’s vacant Econo Lodge motel, which had been closed due to flooding, was taken over by homeless people, who caused millions in destruction.
Pictures of the motel rooms published by the outlet show trash, towels, and bed sheets littered across the floors.
The city subsequently condemned the motel, and the bank that owned the property had to board it up to prevent homeless people from entering.
“It was inhabitable, and it was unsafe,” Mr. Knell said.
Other homeless people have moved into abandoned properties with no electricity or running water, the mayor said.
Many homeless people loiter in the city's downtown area, the mayor added, leaving behind about 500 pounds of human feces that city staffers cleaned up. The loiterers have occupied parks and bike paths, while others choose to sleep in their cars, Mr. Knell added.
“In desperate times, people do desperate things, and unfortunately, we’re the ones left having to deal with it,” he said, adding the homeless population was responsible for some of the city’s crimes.
“We know very well we cannot litigate our way or arrest our way out of the problem, but our police need some teeth to start dealing with the squatting,” Mr. Knell said. “They’re just causing so many problems.”
The mayor explained that there has always been a small population of homeless people in Casper, given the existence of Wyoming Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter founded in 1978. As a result, the problem with the current growing homeless population lies with those deciding to stay in the city after either failing to get admitted into the shelter or getting kicked out of it, according to Mr. Knell.
“There’s a certain part of the homeless population, whether substance abuse or mental illness, that is getting them to where they don’t want to conform to society’s rules,” Mr. Knell said. “When they do that, they’re not allowed to go in the shelter, which means they’re just out and about in our community raising hell.”
There have been some legislative proposals to tackle the homeless problem, the mayor added, and the city council could vote on them as soon as Sept. 5.
These proposals include modifying the city code that requires suspected squatters to get written consent from a property owner and establishing a time limit on how long they could stay on private property, according to Cowboy State Daily.