Area’s homeless population growing
The number of people in the Lake Charles area who are considered homeless is growing. Volunteer organizations have stretched their resources so thin, they are worried they won’t be able to continue meeting the demand.
Those who attended a forum on Tuesday said there are close to 500 homeless people in Lake Charles. That’s in stark contrast to an annual homeless survey known as Point in Time. Last year’s survey recorded roughly 50 homeless people in the area.
Along with people who are considered chronically homeless, the high-dollar industrial projects being built here have made apartments and rental homes more expensive. More people are experiencing homelessness for the first time because they are being priced out of the housing market.
Agency officials acknowledge the gap between the survey results and what homeless people, and others who work to help them, are saying. That’s why they urged residents to take part in next year’s survey to get the most accurate count.
Doing so could be instrumental in getting federal funding to help with long-term solutions.
The forum also gave people the chance to brainstorm ideas that could help the homeless in the short term. Suggestions included repurposing warehouses and abandoned buildings as shelters; updating the process to recruit landlords to keep rental property costs down; and simplifying the process to get homeless people a picture ID.
The Point in Time survey is set for Jan. 28. If you know someone who is experiencing homelessness, tell them about the survey and ask them to participate. It’s not something people want to do, but it could at least give a more accurate representation of a problem that needs improving.
The high turnout for Tuesdays’ forum shed light on just how bad the homeless crisis is here. People were given the chance to vent and have their voices heard on what needs to be done.
Events like these are important for officials to hear directly from those who desperately need a home. At least it helped bring some solutions for easy fixes to the table.
Solving the homeless problem as a whole in Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish is going to take plenty of work and dedication on all levels.