LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Did you know you cannot claim your social security without a mailing address?
Fixing that for those who have no shelter is one example of the “low-hanging fruit” officials latched onto at the housing and homeless crisis forum on Nov. 13.
It was a diverse and often emotional cross-section of the community who gathered for a housing and homeless crisis forum. Clearly, there are few easy answers. Homeless advocate for Water’s Edge ministry, Kelli Stawecki, says they began feeding 15 and now have 200 on their list.
“I am begging...begging you all to help my friends," Stawecki said. "I mean, I had over 100 phone calls over the last day from people asking me to please put them in a motel. They’re cold.”
Various public officials and other community leadership expressed their desire to solve problems. Tarek Polite with Calcasieu Police Jury Human Services says one thing they can do is designate post office boxes to some who cannot get their social security because they have no mailing address.
"We'll work with the postal unit in our building on Moelling Street and we will set aside a certain number of post boxes for that purpose," said Polite.
However, most of the issues are not so easily fixed. There is frustration from those who struggle to have a safe place to lay their head at night.
Also, there is frustration from those who want more solutions. Reverend Braylin Harris suggested it will require changed hearts and politicians willing to put their career on the line.
“This problem will not be solved very greatly until a politician puts their career on the line and says,’I’m voting for the minority against the majority. I’m voting for the homeless. I’m voting for those less fortunate.’ And it’s probably going to cost them their career, but that cost is going to be what it costs. It’s not a dollar sign, it’s a power sign,” Harris said.
Some talked about the many vacant buildings in the area and wondered why they are not being used for shelter.
“These facilities can be easily converted into just rooms. The only problem you’re going to have is just showering. Industries may come in and volunteer their time. Churches may come in and volunteer their time to renovate these buildings,” Larry Payne, a local minister, said.
And when it ended, no doubt, some left unsure where they'd sleep that night, but, perhaps, encouraged that there are people who care.
For more information on resources in our community check the links in this story.