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

By 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.”