KPLC's Theresa Schmidt recently spoke with Denise Durel, President and CEO of the United Way of Southwest Louisiana, to see how they will provide financial support to residents of the Pin Oak trailer park in Sulphur.
Here's what she had to say:
Durel: "We are actually honored that the parish and the continuum of care came to us for the folks of Pin Oak, and we actually are going to provide the resources that they need to pay to actually, for new deposits, whether it be for utilities, the possibility of moving their homes for rent assistance, so we are actually providing the financial assistance that these families need to prevent them from being homeless, to help them find a new home."
Reporter: How confident are you you'll be able to meet the need? It can cost $3000 - $4000 to move a trailer.
Durel: "Well, we're anticipating that our costs, based on the Crestwood situation, and the number of folks that we helped there, we're anticipating only about a $5000 cost to us. It really is based on how well 211 and the continuum of care do their resources, because we're not the only resource available to these families, but we are one of many, and so we are really looking at a cost of about $5000 coming out of United Way."
Reporter: "Total? Not per person?"
Durel: "Total. And if the need is higher than that we will have the ability to look at the possibility of having some additional funds."
Reporter: "There's somewhat of a deadline situation here because, as I understand, they're supposed to be out by March 6. Any feel for how strict that deadline is?"
Durel: "Well today they said it was permanent, it is March 6. So, the families were encouraged today to have everything in order. It's really important that today that they call 211 and reach out to the assistants so that all of us who are willing to help them can get that ball rolling. The place to start is 211. They've got to call 211."
Reporter: "So, they don't have to be confused about which agency to call for what. Just call 211."
Durel: "And they'll get completely directed to all the resources."
Reporter: "How worried are you and perhaps some of the others about this becoming a growing problem, and of course, I don't know the specifics of what this land owner intends to do, but clearly, there are a lot of people who see the potential for big profits if they can make nicer places to live when all these people come here."
Durel: "We're just, United Way, we're going to be here when our partners call upon us, and the citizens and our donors call upon us to handle each situation independently and separately, and we're just honored to be able to help the people of Pin Oak in this way."
Durel: "If anyone would like to make an additional contribution, other than the dollars that we're putting in, we have offered to collect those donations. They can send them to United
Way marked Pin Oak and we will add those dollars to the dollars we are allocating to help these families."