Rifle, CO

“When the oil and gas industry first got big, Colorado was touted as a boom town. ‘Come one, come all!’ the oil and gas companies were saying. So we had a lot of men moving into town, many of them bringing families, with everything they owned packed in the car. Sometimes they would barely have enough gas to get here. When they arrived in Rifle, and went looking for a place to live, they would discover that there weren’t any. Or that the rates were exorbitant. Who had $1,000 to put down as a deposit? On a two-bedroom apartment? Plus rent on top of that…it was just tough for the new O&G workers. We had a lot of people, families even, who were living out of their vehicles for weeks or months while the roughnecks tried to find work or a better place to live. There were strict anti-drug rules at a lot of the companies that some of these new guys couldn’t pass…so they had to live in their cars, or up in the mountains to scrape enough cash together to go back home. The campgrounds were just overwhelmed. I was a thrift store manager for a while, and we’d have people coming in saying, ‘I live at 8,000 feet altitude, and I need 10 blankets’… because of our lack of supply, we’d have to tell them that we could only give out one free bedding per person. Many of the newcomers didn’t have a clue about living in the Rocky Mountains’ cold weather climate.”

Leslie Robinson
Rifle, CO

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