'It's not a crisis, it's an emergency.' Shelter JH pleas for housing solutions now

(Jackson, Wyo.) - 4 p.m. in downtown Jackson - Cue the rain, hail, tents, cardboard, signs, strong emotions and tears. People braved the weather to have their voices heard. "What do we want?" yelled the organizer. "Housing!" responded the crowd. "When do we want it?" "Now!" As a part of the Shelter JH Emergency Housing Rally, nearly 50 people marched through Town Square yelling and holding up signs. The group ultimately landed at Town Hall. They set up tents on the lawn as people shared emotional stories of homelessness, housing struggles, family and community in Jackson Hole. At 6 p.m., the crowd funneled into Town Hall for the Town Council meeting. Shelter JH organizer Jorge Moreno told the crowd about being homeless for a month and constantly telling his family that they were going to be OK, even though he wasn't sure what the future would hold. "I have been a part of this community for well over half of my lifetime," he said in the Town Council meeting. "This is not a crisis, it is an emergency. I am also here to speak for those who are still working today cooking, cleaning, etc. It is obvious we need help. I would like to encourage you to, whatever decisions you make, to consider that we already have an emergency." "I have a law firm here and am a public defender," said Elisabeth Trefonas of Trefonas Law during the Town Council meeting. "I have two good jobs and rent here, but I don't know if I can stay. We need your help. We are begging for your help. I am a public defender and had numerous people ask if they could stay in jail because they had no place to go. That is not how it should go.” Leslie, a local 17-year-old, spoke about how after the rent was raised, she felt like lost her mother to work. "Now I don’t have a mother because she is working two jobs to Monday - Sunday and she has no time for me. And I feel so alone because I don’t have no one to talk to," said Leslie. "It is so hard for a mother and a daughter that doesn’t have a father. I feel that you and the community need to do something. If you have a daughter, if you have just one job, you can spend time with her daughter. If you have three jobs, you cannot spend time with your daughter. Please do something.” Long-time resident Cindy Budge spoke about how this hasn't always been a problem, but now she fears the people who work in the community can't vote because they live in Alpine and Victor. “What we end up losing is continuity in our community, diversity in our community and the soul of our community," she said. The comments and stories went on and on. Following the speeches, Mayor Sara Flitner outlined the Town's plans to house the workforce including temporary RV parking on private land, expanded commuter routes, short term rental ordinances, being more transparent about the town's plans for housing and more. The event spurred emotionally charged speeches, but remained peaceful and productive. Hear all of the powerful public comments on the Town of Jackson website here. #buckrail #news