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Volunteers conducted surveys with homeless individuals at Abraham's Tent on Tuesday for the 2013 Point in Time Homeless Count. Every individual was given a gift bag with toiletries, a blood pressure check, and a free meal voucher along with information and guidance to help their needs. (Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)<br>

Volunteers conducted surveys with homeless individuals at Abraham's Tent on Tuesday for the 2013 Point in Time Homeless Count. Every individual was given a gift bag with toiletries, a blood pressure check, and a free meal voucher along with information and guidance to help their needs. (Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)

(Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)<br>

(Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)

Point-In-Time census taken of homeless in Lake Area

Last Modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 11:02 PM

By John Guidroz / American Press

About 90 homeless people are living in the five-parish area of Southwest Louisiana, according to unofficial results from Tuesday’s Point-In-Time Homeless Count Survey.

Umeih Thomas, interim coordinator for the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Continuum of Care, said it is a drop from the 162 people surveyed last year, but that results from Beauregard and Allen parishes are pending. She said no homeless people were found in Cameron Parish.

The results will be used to determine how much grant money Southwest Louisiana will receive from agencies like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Angela Jouett, director of the Calcasieu Medical Reserve Corps, said the lower number could mean that more homeless people are getting the help they need.

“I kind of look at it on the flip side,” she said. “If we come up with 500, that means we’re not doing a good job of watching out for our homeless population.”

About 60 people were interviewed at Abraham’s Tent, and 30 more were found at various shelters within Calcasieu and Jeff Davis parishes, Thomas said. She said people were asked to write down their personal information and discuss where they were sleeping each night.

“It was a good flow of people coming in,” Thomas said of the survey at Abraham’s Tent. “Considering the number of tabletops we had, there were about 10-15 questionnaires at a time. That made things run smoothly.”

One man, who declined to give his name for the survey, had “been living on and off in his car for the past four years,” according to Thomas.

“He told us he has a job,” Thomas said. “We gave him our contact information. We will do what we can to try and assist him and other people with housing.”

Once a person filled out the form, he or she was given a blood pressure screening, a bag containing items like toothpaste and other toiletries, and a meal voucher courtesy of McDonald’s.

Thomas and Jouett said they were thankful for the nearly 30 volunteers who helped in the effort. Thomas said a volunteer from Shreveport did not realize there were that many homeless people in Southwest Louisiana.

“When you have an event of this caliber and when you speak about it, that’s when it becomes eye-opening,” she said. “There is a homeless problem, and you have to do something about it.”

Posted By: Umeih Thomas On: 2/27/2013

Title: What a success!

I have said it once but I am saying it again, thank you. I was fortunate enough to be apart of such a wonderful group of people who helped make the 2013 Point-In-Time Count a success. I really enjoyed working with each of you because we each played a part in helping someone who was in need. THANK YOU!

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