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Local homeless offered shelter as city grapples with long-term fix

Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 6:03 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -With the potential of even colder temperatures overnight Monday, officials in Calcasieu parish have utilized final resources to make sure those less fortunate are safe.

Prior to the artic blast, there was already a growing list of concerns for the local homeless population following the pandemic and back-to-back storms.

In a final effort, Mayor Nic Hunter says they were able to find non-congregate shelters for a number of homeless individuals.

I think there are going to be lessons learned from this as there are with any disaster,” said Mayor Hunter. “I am proud that the city and parish came together and were able to house over 100 people last night.”

With the threat of even more severe temps overnight into Tuesday...Hunter says, at this hour, the city is in a good spot.

”Overall, our infrastructure has held up well, we have no major issues to report with public works, water, or wastewater.”

However, maybe the biggest challenge of them all has been addressing the city’s homeless population.

“The civic center wasn’t considered for a site. Burton is in a better condition but because of COVID-19, it wasn’t considered either,” said Calcasieu Police Jury Human Services Director Tarek Polite.

Through parish resources, the city was able to set up over 100 homeless individuals in hotels, just one part of the solution.

Several local churches and outreach programs had been providing emergency overnight shelter on a rotating basis until that was brought to an end by the arrival of the highly contagious coronavirus.

I’m proud that we have public and private agencies that are willing to make things happen. No one threw up their hands and said oh well,” Hunter said.

The action comes as the city grapples with ways of addressing the local homeless problem, made worse by restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Obviously, that’s (pandemic) impacted some of our planning efforts and through this event...moving forward I see us being able to respond to these events in a more proactive and better way,” said Polite.

A few local outreach programs have also implemented some emergency sheltering options for individuals. However, at this point, officials say if you’re still in need of help...you’ll have to dial 911 or 211 to what options are available as the temperatures continue to drop.

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