A city in Wyoming has been overtaken by squatters after 500 pounds of human waste and millions of dollars’ worth of damage to a motel were left behind.
There are 60,000 people living in Casper, the second-largest city in the state, but there are about 200 individuals living on the streets.
A number of vacant or abandoned properties have been confiscated, including an Econo Lodge motel that hasn’t been used since November.
Casper Mayor Bruce Knell compared the level of the damage to that of a third-world country.
The motel, which had roughly 300 rooms and had already been closed due to flooding, was occupied by squatters, who have since made it unsafe to live in.
Water lines that froze and ruptured last winter are what first caused the disaster, flooding one floor and covering the electrical switch panel.
City Considers New Ordinance to Crack Down on Squatters
The squatters have only served to exacerbate the harm that was already done, which cost millions of dollars.
The building was boarded up and secured after the bank foreclosed on the property.
However, the homeless gang broke into the building and now the city must deal with hundreds of pounds of human waste as part of a cleanup.
City officials acknowledge that they are at a loss for how to cope with the increasing number of vagrants and point out that fines and arrests do not appear to be solving the issue.
A new ordinance that would force squatters to acquire written permission from property owners and put time limitations on how long they might camp on private property is currently being considered by the city council for implementation.
The mayor of the city has noted that while homelessness is a difficult problem to solve, many people who end up in this situation also struggle with drug or alcohol addiction or mental illness and deliberately disobey social norms.
Because of this, they are unable to find shelter, which forces them to prowl the neighborhood and exhibit more antisocial behavior.