Lake Charles City Council members voted unanimously on Wednesday to let the city work with two area organizations on a plan aimed at combating the growing homeless population.
The city is partnered with the United Way of Southwest Louisiana and the Educational and Treatment Council for The Path Home initiative. Local officials first discussed the effort in April. Other participating agencies include Lake Charles Police, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office and Calcasieu Police Jury.
City Council President Luvertha August said the homeless population would benefit from various agencies joining "under one umbrella" to pool their resources.
"This is a problem that's really growing by leaps and bounds," she said. "If we don't get a hold on it now, we're not going to be different from any other metropolis where you have homeless at an extraordinary number."
August said a resident of the Oak Park neighborhood near La. 14 told her about homeless people "digging in people's garbage cans for food."
"We don't want this to get out of hand," she said. "Not only do they not have homes, but some of them are visibly ill."
District C Councilman Rodney Geyen said homeless people should be offered the training needed to get a job and become financially independent.
Alisa Stevens, the city's director of community development and services, mentioned the Southwest Louisiana Committee to Address Homelessness. Its goal is to set priorities, offer guidance and hold accountable the local, state and federal resources assigned to fight homelessness in the region.
Residents can visit thepathhomeswla.org to register for volunteer efforts, donate money and learn more about homelessness in Southwest Louisiana.
To volunteer with The Path Home or make a donation, call the United Way of SWLA at 433-1088.
Later in the meeting, the council voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with the Chamber Southwest Louisiana and the Build Our Bridge campaign. It is related to the effort to lobby for a new Interstate 10-Calcasieu River bridge.
District A Councilwoman Mary Morris was absent from the meeting.