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Dear Casper,

I think you are looking at the homeless issue incorrectly in Casper. I don’t think you understand how certain actions have factored into the increasing number of homeless people in the city.

First, there are some consequences from actions taken by prior councils that indirectly contributed to the homeless issue. For example, the creation of the fixed-route bus system a number of years ago had an impact. Homeless people need/want cheap public transportation and without it, they are less likely to live in a city/town. I am not asserting to get rid of the bus, but I am asserting there are some negative consequences associated with public transportation.

Another example taken by the city is forcing the closure/demolition of the terrible apartment building across the street from the Nicolaysen and the remodeling of another terrible apartment building on the corner of A and Beech streets. Where did the original tenants go?

The city/county/state/Feds provide financial subsidies for low-income housing. The reality is this usually does not actually help homeless people because of all the restrictions/paperwork to get into these government subsidized buildings. These buildings have a very significant financial competitive advantage over “free market” potential apartment buildings. The result is fewer “free market” apartment buildings are built except for higher income tenants. There have not been any “free market” apartment buildings built in decades in Casper that require only a nominal amount of requirements to get the apartment — no just showing a picture ID and paying deposit/first month rent to get the apartment. Now they all have a lengthy application process.

Wyoming has absolutely no tenant protection — totally pro landlord. Many states and cities offer protection, such as some legal process to evict a tenant. There is no right to renew a lease or right to continue to rent on a month-to-month basis. Many of the homeless in Casper were, for whatever reason, kicked out of their prior apartment either in Casper or in some other town/city in Wyoming. In most of the U.S., evictions are subject to a judicial review.

While this is not caused by the council, the reality is homelessness is often caused by the changes over the years on how people are paid and the type of housing available. Decades ago, people were paid (often in cash) at the end of their first work week — now it is often two to three weeks before they get their first check (not cash). Decades ago, at the end of the first week, a person could get a room and pay on a weekly basis. Later they would try to get an apartment or house. Now, often one month rent is required for deposit (sometimes even two months) plus the first month’s rent after a very lengthy application and background check process. Urban renewal subsidized by the government has demolished housing that was formerly occupied by the current homeless population. The workers have not changed, the system changed, causing homelessness.

The reality is that a major factor causing homelessness is the person in the mirror.

Stay well,

Keith Rolland

Casper, Wyo.