1. What is the Home Coalition?

The Northeast Louisiana Housing and Supportive Services Corporation (usually referred to as the HOME – Housing Options Meant for Everyone – Coalition) began when a small group of homeless service providers in Ouachita Parish began informal networking after attending the state’s first homeless conference. From those first collaborative efforts, the Coalition has grown to become the lead agency in coordinating Northeast Louisiana’s response to homelessness. Our membership includes representatives from all 12 parishes in our corner of the state, as well as representation by state and federal agencies. We’re making great progress toward our goal: a Northeast Louisiana free of homelessness where all people feel safe and valued!

2. If I am homeless and need help, what can I do?

Important!! – if you’re in danger, call 911 now. Contact Home Coalition member, The United Way by calling their 2-1-1 free phone help line. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with all the resources our area offers to help those in need, simply dial 2-1-1 for assistance.

3. I am interested in helping, what can I do?

Find out more about homelessness by scheduling a speaker for your group or class. Get involved in addressing homelessness by attending HOME Coaltion meetings (call 807-6200 or email homecoalition@gmail.com to find out when the next meeting is scheduled). Call United Way’s 2-1-1 resource line to find out all about help for the homeless and volunteer opportunities with homeless service providers. Or donate goods or funding to The Wellspring or other homeless service providers of your choice. Most of all, help dispel myths about homelessness in NELA. Here are some of the most common, along with the facts everyone should know.

4. Who’s homeless in Northeast Louisiana?

When most people think of a homeless person, they envision a middle aged man who’s mentally ill or has a problem with substance abuse, or sometimes both. Or an individual who has fallen on hard times and is drifting from place to place, trying to get a foothold and make a new start. Across the country, those descriptions fit two out of three (64.5%) of homeless. (AHAR 2015) Here in NELA, over half (58.9%) of homeless are a young parent and their children, who are fleeing a violent home or because of depression or a bad break, or because of a poor choice have landed on the streets. (NELA HOME Coalition Point in Time, 2017)

5. How is homelessness defined?

Government agencies and nonprofits that serve the homeless may have different technical definitions of who is considered homeless, but in general someone is homeless if he or she does not have a permanent place to live — that is, if he or she is living in a temporary site such as a a shelter or on the streets, in a car, shed, camp, or other place not meant for human habitation. Under some federal laws, a family may be considered homeless if they have no permanent place to live and have had to move from house to house staying with family, friends and others on a continous basis.

6. How common is homelessness here?

On any given night in NELA, nearly 185 people are on the streets, sleeping in the backseat of a car, in a park or the woods, or somewhere else most of us wouldn’t let a pet sleep. Our own research shows that about a fourth (27.6%) of those said they were homeless because they are fleeing abuse. 10.8% have a disabling illness or condition. (2017) On an annual basis, that one-night number can be adjusted using a national formula to an annualized estimate of approximately 1,850.

7. How does this affect the community?

If you look at just a dollar cost, a 2004 Florida study showed each homeless person costs the state nearly $12,000 a year in lost tax revenue. The human toll is far greater – homeless persons are more likely to have difficulty getting or keeping a job, suffer mental health issues like depression, to be sick, and to live in poverty. (naeh.org, 2009) The impact on homeless children in particular is difficult, with reduced school attendance and performance as well the mental and physical health problems. (US DHH Rog et al 2007)

8. What is the community doing about it?

NELA has one of the best systems in place in the country for serving our homeless though all the homeless service providers have waiting lists of people who are waiting to get help. We don’t yet serve all those who need our help in the area because the great need outstrips available funding, but the ones we do help often get back on their feet and back into the mainstream of being housed, productive citizens again. All the service providers have formed an organization called the HOME Coalition that meets monthly to share information, coordinate our services, define the area’s needs, and to work on strategies to meet those needs.