Living in the midst of a global pandemic is bad enough, but being homeless while that’s going on is a human tragedy. For the last two or three years, I noticed the homeless population in Lake Charles growing at an alarming rate. This is a small city, and having a homeless community at all is very unusual, at least to the degree that it has developed into over the years.

This is a dilemma that deserves attention, and thank God, help is now being offered to this vulnerable community. KPLC reports several state agencies have teamed up and started an initiative that will hopefully give these men and woman a new lease on life. The Louisiana Balance of State Continuum of Care, the Calcasieu Parish Human Services Department, and a local motel are working together to provide a safe, clean place for the city's homeless to live.

Longtime local advocate and Human Services Director, Tarek Polite, told the 7 News that this program is targeting unsheltered individuals exclusively. In addition to providing a sanitary environment, they are making sure these residents have a nutritious meal and the tools needed to get them back on their feet. It’s a sign of hope and the perfect way to show the community cares about them. Mr. Polite explained this special housing is available to a maximum occupancy of 140 people. The goal of the initiative is simple: give the residents necessary supportive resources and help them turn their lives around.

Kelli Stawecki with Water’s Edge Gathering in Lake Charles said this type of assistance has been a long time coming for the area. An outreach provider in the community for more than nine years, she knows all too well the devastating effects of homelessness. Stawecki is happy to see a non-congregate shelter has been put in place for those who need it the most. Meanwhile, Tarek Polite told KPLC the housing is provided for 90 days and they still have room.

If you or someone you know is in need of shelter or services, just call 337-802-1092 or send an email to homelesscovid19@calcasieuparish.gov for more info.

On that same note, Mrs. Stawecki says this is an amazing blessing and wants to secure transportation for the program's residents. The Water’s Edge community outreach organizer is asking the public to donate bikes to help make this happen.

To give, call 337-223- 9003 or go to https://www.watersedgegathering.com/give/

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