Calcasieu Parish Police Jury holds ‘homeless simulation’

Updated: Jul. 25, 2019 at 4:29 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - According to January’s Point In Time Survey, there are 84 un-sheltered individuals living in Lake Charles.

Many people believe the actual number is much higher than that.

On Friday, the Human Services Department of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury held a homeless simulation to give people a glimpse into what it’s like living on the streets in the Lake Area.

The simulation worked to dispel the many negative stereotypes surrounding homelessness.

“There’s so many opportunities out there, which is what I used to say," Nadine Blake, one of the simulation participants, said. "I’d be like, there’s so much stuff out there to help people. And there really is, but it’s hard to navigate it.”

The simulation placed participants in different homeless situations, making them live out the day-to-day to gain a better understanding of what it’s like to be homeless in Lake Charles.

They went through things like trying to get a license, a job, and into a shelter or housing.

“In my situation, I was a sixteen year old girl, with a six month old baby," Blake said. "And, nobody would take us in. Even the homeless shelters wouldn’t take us in, because we were sixteen years old.”

It’s a perspective many of the participants gained for the first time, but for Joe Thompson, it’s been his reality since 2016.

Thompson has a unique story. He lived as a homeless person for a full year to create a documentary about what the experience is like.

Since then, he’s become a homelessness advocate in the community. He said he’s very glad for the simulation, because it gives people a glimpse into what he sees every day.

“Understanding that it’s not easy being homeless," Thompson said. “In the simulation, they’ve seen just how hard it is to get some help.”

Empathy for that hurt was one of the number one take away’s people got from the simulation.

“No more stigma, and pretend that I know what someone else is going through," Anne-Marie Frischhertz, a simulation participant, said. "I’ll never know, unless I sit down with someone and figure out what I can do to help.”

The Human Services Department is also hosting a Homeless Shelter Community Resource Fair this coming Sunday and Monday, July 28-29.

It will be at 4 p.m. at the Allen P. August Annex at 2000 Moeling Street.

There will be transportation provided from certain locations.

According to the Police Jury website, services offered will include Medicaid/Medicare benefits, legal services, veterans services, housing services, food stamp information and employment resources, as well as basic health screenings and hepatitis shots.

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