LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) Some Lafayette residents are voicing their concerns about squatters setting up shop in their neighborhood.

“We have seen people coming out of the woods dressing, putting on clothes, it is our understanding they are having sex in the field and doing drugs,” Brenda Montgomery said.

“People walking the streets, on the main and side streets dumping trash, dressing, pitching a tent to find a place to live.” 

In addition, she said, the ladies who live alone have confessed that they are scared. 

Recently, the Louisiana Housing Corporation and the Department of Veterans Affairs awarded Catholic Charities of Acadiana $3 million in capital grants to renovate, expand, and upgrade two of its shelters, St. Joseph Shelter and St. Michael Center for Veterans, both located on the 400 block of St. John Street. 

However, the construction is set for Fall, 2023.

“The problem is that one, the shelter is too small for the people that they’re trying to serve, and two is that they don’t have any resources or functions for those people that live in that shelter,” Montgomery said.

Due to the renovation of the two facilities, the organization moved their shelter’s capacity on Friday, Sept. 9, to E. Willow which is within close proximity of a one to two-mile radius are several schools near the shelter, including J.W. Faulk, Northside High School, Teurlings Catholic High School, and St. Genevieve Catholic School. 

“We pray for them. I’m Catholic. We support them, but they need to be attended to by some organization or an agency that can address their needs. Right now, their needs, as far as we see, are not being addressed.”

Councilman Glenn Lazard who lives in the neighborhood said he sees everyone’s concerns and has been in frequent contact with residents and authorities at Catholic Charities of Acadiana to find the best solution.

“I don’t think that it’s an appropriate location for the facility, and I think that Catholic Charities is placed in a very compromising position because they are being forced to serve a population they don’t have the resources to serve. So you know, it’s kind of a catch-22, if you will.”

He adds, “Sometimes we go days or weeks without any issues, and then we have an avalanche like we have had over the last week or so.” 

News 10 received the following statement regarding sheltering for those experiencing homelessness.

“We are seeking to accomplish our mission of caring for the sacred gift of all human life, especially the most vulnerable. We ask for the continued support and compassion of the community as we work to address complex issues with our brothers and sisters in the most dignified manner possible. In keeping with our mission, Catholic Charities of Acadiana has offered critical shelter services to those experiencing homelessness in our community for almost 50 years. As the region’s largest provider of shelter services, Catholic Charities of Acadiana operates its shelter services in multiple locations…Catholic Charities of Acadiana strives to contribute to a safer community and quality of life for all, believing that communities are safer when everyone’s basic needs are met.” – Ben Broussard, chief of external affairs of Catholic Charities of Acadiana.