As an example of how homelessness exists in states and communities across the country, on January 12, 2013, The New York Times featured a story, “In Wyoming, More Jobs But No Place to Call Home.” The story profiles individuals and families, many who are working but are not able to afford a home.
“As in any other place in the country, many homeless people in Wyoming have lived on the streets for years or suffer from mental illness or drug and alcohol addictions. But social service workers say they have seen a growing number of economic migrants from Florida and Michigan, Wisconsin and California, with nowhere to settle.
‘They’d pack up their pit bulls, their children and they’d move to Wyoming with nothing, just the clothes on their backs,’ said Lily Patton, a housing counselor with Interfaith of Natrona County, a nonprofit group. ‘They keep saying, ‘I’ve never been in this situation before.’ ”
Wyoming has a relatively low unemployment rate of a little over 5% and promising jobs in the oil, gas and coal industry. But “as homeless rates held steady nationwide last year, federal data show that Wyoming’s homeless population soared by 67 percent, to 1,813 people from 1,083 in 2011.”
As another winter settles in, many people who moved here fleeing foreclosures and chasing jobs in the oil, gas and coal industries now find themselves without a place to live. Apartments are scarce and expensive, and the economy, while strong, is not growing at the swift pace of drilling towns in western North Dakota, where cashiers can earn $20 an hour and fast-food workers can be paid thousand-dollar signing bonuses.