Casper’s growing homelessness issue reaching breaking point

Just off of I-25 in Casper sits what used to be an Econo Lodge hotel. Deserted, homeless residents known as squatters moved in.
Updated: Sep. 6, 2023 at 10:00 AM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - It’s a story we’ve been following for a couple of months now... Casper’s growing homeless population. In fact... it’s an issue that is now grabbing national attention. Homeless folks were recently found squatting in an abandoned hotel by the police, causing lots of damage. And Mayor Bruce Knell believes this issue has now reached it’s tipping point.

Just off of I-25 in Casper sits what used to be an Econo Lodge hotel; which previously went out of business because of flood damage. Deserted, homeless residents known as squatters moved in. Until eventually the police were notified, as Knell explains.

“The bank had hired a security guard to cut the grass, do things like that. (So) he realized broken windows and called the police. And they went in the building and found... The beginning of what we have come to realize... As squatters and degradation in our hotel.”

Knell realizes desperate times call for desperate measures, but was still amazed at what he saw when he toured the building.

“Literally reminded me of being in a third world country, which I’ve been in. They were using the facilities with no running water or electricity. All the toilets were being used. They were using water in the swimming pool to bathe in, that had been there since... The last January. They had broken into every vending machine; and stripped it of every dollar, coin, item that was in it.”

Knell and the rest of city council now know without a shadow of a doubt... Something has to change.

“The coalition came together with some ideas. They brought them to staff and I believe staff is drafting some new ordinances that are in legal now... That will give our police an opportunity to work with...”

Mayor Knell brought up some other interesting points about the homeless issue that we’ll hear more about down the road. And as future ordinances get proposed and voted on in council meetings, we’ll be sure to bring you the latest.