The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says homelessness has decreased in Louisiana.
HUD’s 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report shows homelessness fell 17% in Louisiana.
383 veterans were counted as homeless this year, which is a 4% decrease from 2016– that’s an overall decrease of 68% since 2010.
While these numbers show homelessness in Louisiana has decreased, local officials say otherwise.
Stephen Etienne, the director of the Iberia Homeless Shelter, tells News 10 he has seen an increase in numbers this past year in Iberia Parish, “Even though as a whole, as a coalition, the numbers might be going down, here in Iberia Parish our numbers tend to go up.”
He added, “The Federal Government picks one night to conduct [a survey] to identify the people that [are] homeless. And that’s where you’re getting the data numbers from. That certain point in time. Now certainly, if you had more time [to conduct the survey], the numbers would probably increase more.”
Homeless Outreach Coordinator for Volunteers of America in Acadiana, Damian Williams, tells me job loss and Lafayette being a transient city are reasons a lot of people are unaccounted for when the numbers are collected, “Lafayette is a transient city and what happens is individuals come searching for jobs or other opportunities, and they tend to stay, and that adds to the homeless population.”
Despite the local increase of homelessness, Williams is sure that with the right help, those numbers can drop. He says, “What I think can be done here in Lafayette, is individuals can work together with Volunteers of America or any other agency to pull resources together to try to develop a plan and get individuals housed who have low income.”
If you or someone you know is homeless, you can call Volunteers of America at (337) 234-5715 or the Iberia Homeless Shelter at (337) 369-9900.