Community mobilizes to help evicted residents at Pin Oak

(Source: KPLC)
(Source: KPLC)

SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - The projected economic growth in Southwest Louisiana is forcing a group of Sulphur residents out of their homes at Pin Oak Trailer Park, while property owners work to prepare for the expected population boom.

Everett LeBouef is one of the residents being affected.

"That's all we're looking for: just a boost," said LeBouef. "I'll take care of me and my wife from there."

LeBouef rides a bicycle five miles each day to work at Casa Ole in Sulphur. He and his wife, Julie Domingue, are among about sixty people who will have to find a new place to live.

"I don't blame anybody. As the saying goes the rich keep getting richer, and the poor keep getting poorer, and sometimes we get shoved aside," said LeBouef.

The residents here did nothing to bring the evictions on themselves. The trailer park has a new owner, and he wants to renovate the property.

"He's going to upgrade the sewer system. He's going to tie into Houston River Water, because they have a water well out there right now," said Mayor Chris Duncan, who talked to the new owner about his plans.

"So, those are two major expansions, so I understand why the trailers have to be moved out of there to do that, because he's going to have a lot of trenching going on," said Duncan.

The residents are grateful that public agencies and leaders are trying to prevent anyone from becoming homeless.

"We've noticed that the rental market has gone through the roof in the area. Things that were rented really cheap is now going up big time... We had a guy call city hall the other day. He was paying $1000 a month. It's now going to go to $1700. It's just supply and demand," said Duncan.

Most of the residents being affected at Pin Oak cannot afford it.

"We're looking at $500 a month with a $200 deposit," said Domingue.

Agencies mobilizing to assist residents include local cities, the United Way, Continumum of Care and the Volunteer Center 211.

Director Beverly McCormick says the first thing for residents to do is call 211 and explain what they need.

"We'll collect this data and collect this information, and every afternoon a caseworker from the Continuum of Care will come to our office, pick up these forms, and within 48 hours, they will contact the residents of Pin Oak to see how they can assist them," said McCormick.

Residents must be out by March 6.

KPLC also spoke to Denise Durel, President and CEO of the United Way of Southwest Louisiana, about this issue. That interview is available HERE.

We have also attached several interviews in a web extra, which is available HERE. The interviews deal with different agencies' approaches to assisting residents.

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