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Ordinary Americans, the 99%, are travelling thousands of miles to get a job only to find out they have nowhere to live.  

Fleeing unemployment, boarded-up storefronts and foreclosures nationwide, families are lured by the hope of high-paying gas and oil drilling jobs in North Dakota and Wyoming.  In western North Dakota where business is brisk, cashiers can earn $20 an hour.  The jobs don’t pay as well in Wyoming but unemployment is still under 5%.  But there’s no roof over the heads of the nomads:

“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.’”

There is a 2-1/2 year wait for affordable housing.

Caspar, Wyoming’s few homeless shelters and temporary housing are full to overcapacity.  Meanwhile, winter is setting in:

On particularly bitter nights, when the wind tears in from the west and temperatures plummet, homeless advocates spread mattresses on their office floors or set out space heaters in storefronts to accommodate people who might otherwise freeze.
One woman pitched a tent on a campground and told her children they were going camping.

Echoes of The Grapes of Wrath, where the Joads left the sterile soil and dustbowl storms with all their worldly goods hooked to their creaky jalopy.  But FDR was president then and he felt the government had a responsibility for the common good.  He didn’t funnel cheap money into the financial sector; he put people to work building bridges, dams and housing.  Infrastructure.

Austerity and cutting the budget killed a recovery in 1937.  But no matter.  To help people in need is not the American way now.  Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.   The grim, typical response in political circles is that you are responsible for your own fate and if you ended up homeless, even though you are working at a reasonable job, that’s your problem.  

I live in the northeast.  Housing and land evaporated from Hurricane Sandy.  While the President and Congress bicker, the winter looks like the Dickens.

Those that cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.--George Santayana

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