Cold Temperatures May Cause Added Issues For Homeless Teens


Payton Brown, Reporter/Editor

Wyoming has had some record breaking low temperatures this winter that may cause dangers for the homeless community of Casper. Casper has seen an increase in homelessness in recent years, and that combined with the cold temperatures can be a terrible combination for those without shelter. 

Casper’s homeless population has increased steadily in past years, spiking at the peak of COVID-19. Along with this, the number of homeless teens and families with children has increased. “This is my 24th year of being the McKinney Vento liaison and every year my number grows. I had over two hundred students identified for the school year at semester and I haven’t been over 200 for several years,” said Greta Hinderliter, the Natrona County School District’s McKinney Vento liaison, when discussing the amount of homeless students identified this school year.

Along with this, Casper has had some record breaking lows as far as temperature, and multiple snow storms throughout the winter. Greg Hirst wrote in an article on December 22 of 2022, “Data from Thursday shows one location in Casper hitting minus 40, with the airport dropping to minus 42.” At temperatures that low in only a few minutes frostbite can set in.

Low temperatures are not good for people’s health beyond just hypothermia and frostbite. “…longer the exposure to the cold, the more risk of heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia, depression, worsening arthritis and increased accidents,” published the Met Office in an article about the effects of cold weather on a person’s health.

The Wyoming Rescue Mission makes an effort to help as many people as possible during inclement weather. “During severe winter storms, the shelter will keep its dorms open rather than closing them during the day. It will also provide other spaces inside the building where people can stay safe and avoid the cold,” Michael Livingston shared with a reporter for the Star Tribune.  Livingston is the community relations coordinator for the Wyoming Rescue Mission. 

Hinderliter added to this, saying, “The rescue mission has what they call mercy services, so if they are full they open a building with cots. You can come in and spend the night so you are not freezing outside. They’ll feed you breakfast and then you have to leave for the day.”

Along with that there are specific resources offered for homeless teens in Casper. “That’s our youth house which has been going for three years now, so we house kids 16 to 20,” Hinderliter said, referring to the Unaccompanied Student Initiative or USI. There is also a new youth housing being built as well, “We are very excited to announce that we are building a new youth house which should be done this summer. We will be able to house 14 kids. It’s a twin home so we will have places on one side for seven girls and places on the opposite side for seven boys,” said Hinderliter.