Local attorney who handles evictions sees “new face of homelessness”

Local attorney who handles evictions sees “new face of homelessness”

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It’s National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week and one local event happening is a ‘housing and homeless crisis forum’ on Nov. 13.

A local attorney who handles evictions says there's a new face of homelessness in our area:

The homeless in Calcasieu Parish are often in plain sight. While some struggle with mental illness or drug addiction, Genia Coleman-Lee says others are on streets because they’ve been evicted... She handles those cases in court.

“As I began to do these evictions, I realized, these are working people. Often times, they are working people who just do not have enough income to pay all the expenses of living in a home or an apartment,” said Coleman-Lee.

Or maybe the landlord raised the rent. Or perhaps a criminal conviction keeps them from getting a job.

She says many people just need a chance to get back on their feet.

“There are some criminal records we simply cannot expunge. Therefore, if we cannot expunge the record, they apply for a job, a background search is done—they’re not hired. It creates a new generation of homelessness,” she said.

Coleman-Lee also believes some are stuck in sort of a catch 22:

"When I spoke to some of the homeless persons at Abraham’s tent, many of them, there is income. Social security income. However, you can't receive social security if you don't have a permanent mailing address. And you can't get a permanent mailing address if you don't have the funding to pay for the address where you're supposed to be living," she said.

Coleman and others determined to address homelessness will be at a crisis forum on. Nov. 13.

She hopes some people who are homeless will also be there giving insight, hoping to be part of the solution.

The Housing and Homeless Crisis Forum is from 6-8 p.m. at the Calcasieu Police Jury Business and Career Solutions Center at 2424 Third Street in Lake Charles.

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