GILLETTE, Wyo. — This morning, representatives of several northeast Wyoming community agencies met to find ways to better collaborate in helping people who are experiencing homelessness.
The meeting, which took place at the Council of Community Services in Gillette, included officials from Volunteers of America, Campbell County Veterans Council, Council of Community Services, Wyoming Department of Family Services, the Y.E.S. House and The Way Station.
They decided to begin having monthly meetings that are open to the public.
In these hybrid in-person and online meetings, agency representatives will present the services they offer, Statewide Coordinated Entry Specialist Dawn Dillinger said. Ultimately, the agencies want to work together better with each other and other community partners who work with housing to quickly resolve situations of homelessness. They want to eliminate any duplication of services and help clients advance in their journeys toward stable housing.
“[It’s] much more effective than everyone trying to solve every problem on their own,” she said.
Council of Community Services Housing Programs Manager Tracy Obert said for the first time, the council has a waiting list and they are having to prioritize people who come into the shelter. Staff have notified police and the hospital to call before they release someone to the shelter to make sure that a bed is available.
She said that amid the crisis, she wants to take a proactive approach rather than a reactive one.
“I don’t want to have to take a phone call and hear about somebody that we had to turn away dying on the streets because they have no housing,” she said.
Homelessness is a multilayer issue, she said. People who don’t have housing are typically in survival mode, and it’s hard for them to take care of their mental and physical health when they have that amount of stress. Instead of being able to plan for six months or a year ahead, individuals in these situations ask themselves, “What can I do to survive this day?” An increased number of homeless people can also impact property values, and they often have trouble finding work.
“If you’re not housed, you’re lost in the community,” she said.