LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The number of people experiencing homelessness in our area has reached an all-time high. With COVID-19 putting many out of work and multiple hurricanes hitting our state this year, people are in situations they could never imagine.
“We had record-cold temperatures this year. It wasn’t the coldest Fat Tuesday on record, but for that date I think we got down to about 16° on February 16,” says meteorologist Chris Cozart.
Ice and sleet covered Acadiana for the day with freezing temperatures dropping to dangerous levels. “If you were in that type of cold and you’re not protected it can lead to death,” says Cozart.
The Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homeless and Housing (ARCH) along with other organizations worked to keep our neighbors safe. They provided shelter for almost 600 Acadiana residence during the freeze. Organizers say it was a community effort. People donated what they could from a dollar to large monetary donations to blankets and coats. Even with the cold weather behind us, our neighbors are still struggling.
“People who have never experienced homelessness in our community are. Certainly the numbers have increased, over double the number of people from last year are now experiencing homelessness,” says Leigh Rachal with ARCH Acadiana.
People lost their jobs and income when COVID-19 hit, others are living in homes that aren’t safe because of extensive hurricane damage. Rachal says the best thing we can do as neighbors is have compassion for others. She says, “Be mindful of the plight that our neighbors are going through. When you see someone who is standing on side of the road or if you see a tent or if you see someone sleeping in their car, recognize that that is your neighbor. We need to be operating with compassion for one another and looking for opportunities to help lift one another up and to provide the basic necessity of shelter and housing.”
ARCH would like to thank everyone in Acadiana who donated and encourages neighbors to continue helping neighbors.