‘These are our people’: Riverton mayor, informal task force seek local resources for intoxicated, unhoused individuals

    Riverton Mayor Tim Hancock says he has been working with an informal “homeless task force” exploring options for additional resources to support unhoused community members.

    The conversation was “spurred” by the November 2022 death of Richard Lonebear, Hancock told the Riverton City Council during a regular meeting this week.

    “He died partially due to hypothermia, partially due to alcohol intoxication – but completely due to being outside and not having a place to go,” Hancock said. “So we were discussing that a little bit: What assets do we have that would be available to someone like that, (who) is intoxicated and cold?”


    The answer to that question, Hancock said, is: “We don’t have any.”

    “That’s just the reality,” he said. “We’ve got a population that’s not being served and can be exposed to the elements. (We’re) trying to figure out what do we do about that.”

    Existing resources

    Resources do exist locally for people seeking addiction services and housing assistance, Hancock explained, but those organizations don’t accept clients who are intoxicated, or if they do, the individual has to agree that “they want to (get) treatment and better their life.”

    Hancock expressed support for those programs, which “are really good in the sense that they’re trying to solve the problem long-term” – but he added that, “sometimes, for some people, the long-term solution isn’t going to make it so that they’re going to be able to survive a cold night.”


    The informal task force has heard from “a lot of people that have a lot of thoughts about that,” Hancock said, and the group has “had some early discussions” about potential strategies for addressing the issue.

    “We’ll continue that discussion going forward, (because) there’s a lot of things to be discussed, and we’re just kind of at the surface right now,” Hancock said. “But the reality is, these are our people, and they are at high risk of exposure to the elements, and we want to talk about it – so that’s what we’ve been doing.”

    For more information, call the City of Riverton at 856-2227.


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