CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - The pressure is on for residents of Crestwood Community to re-locate by February 9th when their mobile home park closes and they have been told the water will be shut off. We tagged along with one couple looking for a new place --Connie and Jessie Chesson--to see first hand what it's like to be forced to find a new places to live when your resources are extremely limited.
Connie and Jessie Chesson take a city bus six miles from Crestwood Community to downtown where they will ride bicycles as they look for housing. First stop, Lake Charles Housing Authority. There are no one bedroom public housing units available so they want to apply for section eight but are turned away. They're in the building scarcely five or ten minutes when they emerge with the bad news. "He said well they weren't taking any applications for Section 8 at this time," said Connie. So what will they do now? "We're going to get on the bicycle and go to the trailer park off Highway 14 (to look for a place to park their camper.)
We're told 2000 people on a waiting list for Section 8, which is a program in which the government pays part of the rent for low income people.
Next the Chessons make their way toward a couple of trailer parks where they've heard there might an opening for their camper though money is tight. "Trailer park where we are now we pay $160 a month," says Connie.
From downtown it's a trek to Highway 14. They stop at one trailer park near McNabb Street, but there's no one to ask.
Next they maneuver through heavy traffic north on Highway 14, east on Broad to another trailer park. It's clearly substandard as there is junk and trash strewn around. A large mattress is leaning up against one trailer. Still, it's something. A tenant directs them to the nearby bar-- "The Construction Zone." There is no answer at the door and the Chessons have no minutes on their phone. So I make the call for them.
Landlord, Scottie Tee White meets them out back. The park leaves a lot to be desired but Connie and Jessie are desperate. Connie is pleased with the agreement they've reached. "$50 security deposit, $150 for electricity deposit and $160 a month." It will be a month to month arrangement with no lease. Connie and Jessie are elated. "It will relieve my worrying," says Connie. They are both smiling. "I tell you, I'm happy. I am happy. It's good and close by the bus stop, I happy," said Jessie.
Landlord Scottie Tee White admits he sees plenty of people like the Chessons and feels for them. "I've been there. I've been there before and I know how it is when you don't have the money coming in. I know how hard it is for people to be able to find places to live and be able to live."
So their next hurdle will be to get their camper moved. They hope one day public housing will become available so that they can improve their standard of living.
For more on help available to residents call a hotline set up: 433-4946. The United Way and Lake Charles Southwest Louisiana Continuum of Care are helping to provide assistance such as security deposits and first month's rent. But they will also accept other donations and see that they are properly distributed to those in need. For example, the donation of — anchors, straps, wood wedges or blocks can help defray the cost of moving a trailer. Again anyone who wants to help may call the United Way hot line number at 433-4946.