The town discussion on a potential campsite for temporary laborers derailed before it ever got going. Councilman Jim Stanford appeared to be the only one interested in exploring the idea but he was not joined by his colleagues.
Don Frank said, “I have to ask the philosophical question: Is it the government’s job to house employees…or private businesses that should take the lead to house their own employees?”
Both Frank and Bob Lenz had no appetite for using the Home Ranch lot as a temporary camping site. They said that belongs to parking guests of downtown Jackson.
Mayor Sara Flitner, on the verge of tears, said she feels for the families currently living out of their cars or on the brink of being homeless.
“I’m disappointed. I’m a mom. The backseat of a car is nowhere for a family to live,” Flitner said. “I know our community is facing pressure, but I am going to encourage this council to focus on permanent, longterm solutions for the people who are cleaning our toilets, cleaning our schools, [etc]…”
Flitner called some solutions well-intentioned (“Like the father and son who put the baby bison in the back of their Tahoe,” she said) but without sensibility. The mayor said she was particularly dismayed by a call she received last night informing her that one family in the valley may be asking their 15-year-old daughter to drop out of high school so she can get a job and help the family make rent on their studio apartment.
Stanford blamed online social media discussions earlier today for derailing the discussion before it could even get going.
“It’s unfortunate that before we could even have this discussion there was an online ‘arms race’ that seeks to distort this issue,” Stanford said.
He added that he was willing to “take the bullet on this” if that’s what it took to “show a little bit of compassion for folks being squeezed right now.”
The council decided to take no further action on the possibility of temporary camping facilities within town limits but did agree to let Stanford explore potential options with county leaders on possible suitable sites for temporary housing.