The Casper Housing Authority is wrapping up the first year of its Housing First Program. It was designed to give the chronically homeless places to live before tackling other issues like addiction and illness.
The program was started last March with 10 homes and 14 participants. Four of them have dropped out of the program, but nine people now have permanent housing and one has completely graduated from the program, and has moved into housing without assistance from the state.
Kim Summerall-Wright is the Casper Housing Authority’s Executive Director. She says housing the homeless costs a lot less than prison stints and ER visits. She also says the program has been successful in ways she didn’t imagine when it began.
"They’ve all gotten into a position where they are giving back." says Summerall-Wright. "And they’re volunteering if they don’t work. They’re paying their taxes when they are working. They’re reaching out to other homeless folks and I think that probably has been a surprising thing that we did not realize was going to happen."
The next phase of the program will aim to make 65 units available to house Casper’s homeless.