Evictions attorney calls for greater help for those suddenly homeless

Updated: Feb. 12, 2018 at 7:23 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - There are more evictions in the Lake area,  according to a local attorney who says the community should better address the needs of those who suddenly find themselves without a place to live.

Eviction is a little like losing everything you have in a storm.  law officers drag all you own to the street-- and often there is no one to come to the rescue.  Genia Coleman-Lee handles evictions for the SWLA Law center.  She's sees at least one a day.

"We're not talking about just indigent people that just not working.  We have good people who because of some hardship in life, have just simply fallen into a place in life where, 'I make enough money to maybe pay the rent, but I don't have enough money to pay the utilities.  I can't keep the car running.  I don't have the insurance.  And so they end up homeless trying to decide, which is the greater need in my life right now. Maybe I could sleep in my car.  That way I don't have to worry about the rent," said Coleman-Lee.

She pleads for those with resources and assets to join forces to help those evicted get meaningful assistance--perhaps a homeless shelter or temporary housing for 30-90 days to save for deposits and such.

"We're steady building and building apartments.  Is any part of this allocated for homelessness? And that is our concern here.  Where do we send them? Once they come in and they are evicted, a judgment has been signed, where do we send them?" said Coleman-Lee.

Coleman-Lee says many evictions stem from tenants not following proper procedures as far as using their own money for repairs and deducting it from rent.

"The landlord must be notified and given opportunity to fix this property, Bottom line, the property belongs to the landlord and you cannot force a landlord to fix this property."

She says many landlords are compassionate and work with people-- but by the time an eviction is underway, there's not much that can be done.

For more on Coleman-Lee's thoughts on possible solutions and how individuals can prevent eviction look for the web extra.

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