Elderly struggle, searching for affordable housing in Lake area

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 7:29 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - This area continues to have a shortage of affordable housing, and it’s making it especially hard on some older people who have been displaced since the hurricanes.

You might not think of Tower Oaks low-income housing for seniors as the stuff of which dreams are made. But after what Mary Smith has been through, she is thrilled to be moving in Saturday.

A look around shows some areas are far from recovered from the hurricanes and that includes affordable housing. Since October, 74-year-old Smith has been sleeping on her brother’s couch.

“I’ve been sleeping on my brother’s sofa. And that’s no fun - sleeping on a sofa at 74 years old,” Smith said.

Her search for housing has been a saga.

“I’ve ran through hell and back,” Smith said. “Two weeks ago, Dr. Springer had to change my blood pressure medicine because all the stress that I’ve been through.”

Her former complex, Whispering Hope on Griffin Street, is not yet open, and she says no one will say when it will open. She says she was told “No” when inquiring about government housing because they have no one-bedroom apartments.

“She wouldn’t even let me fill out an application, because I couldn’t get in a two-bedroom apartment over there,” Smith said.

And most commercial housing is way too expensive for her fixed income.

“I am fed up with it. It is ridiculous, and I’m tired. I shouldn’t have to go through this at my age. And I feel like I’m speaking for all the seniors in lake Charles. We don’t have anybody to speak up for us,” Smith said.

But after nine months of searching, she’s newly accepted at Tower Oaks on Louie Street. She is thrilled with her newly remodeled apartment which she will pay rent of $311 per month. And she says the rest will be paid by HUD.

She hopes speaking out will help others who still struggle to find a place to live.

At Tower Oaks, manager Dena Kelley says they still have vacancies for about 25 more low-income seniors who are 62 and older.

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