Central Louisiana Homeless Coalition Lends a Helping Hand

“We need to do something about Central Louisiana too many people are dying and O-D ing on drugs, and it’s just to the point where we need to get together.”

Tyrone Easley is a regular at the Central Louisiana Homeless Coalition on Jackson Street.  He is a New Hampshire native who became homeless after returning to this area to help his mom out.

“But she really couldn’t help me because she was on a fixed income.”

Easley has been homeless for three years and it really gets him down at times, but he had a positive attitude when I talked with him today.

“I been staying at the levee anywhere you know, because I’ve been having a lot of bad energy dealing with the situation that’s around me. And I just want to help and I want to give back.”

Things really got bad for Easley following the death of his brother-in-law a year ago.

“He had the overuse of drug abuse in his life and that’s how a lot of things had got started with him dying it really put me out there in the boonies you know I went to the boon docks when he went out I really lost it, my mind and I didn’t want to be around anybody.”

Joseph Buzzetta is the Executive Director of the Homeless Coalition. He says the goal is to find people to see what programs they qualify for and work to get them into those programs. He says many factors from the Covid outbreak to the recent Hurricanes have to the economy has resulted in increased homelessness in the area.

“We’ve seen an increase in homelessness.  What people are seeing on the streets is being reflected in our data just an overall increase in the amount of people that are on the streets especially contending with the weather a lot of it is coming into the coalition to get some AC hanging out any shaded areas and really just trying to escape the heat right now.

Once the coalition gets them into programs to help they provide the counseling to keep them there long term.

“We also have case management where people can come in and work with our staff to try to get them into some kind of housing programs and once we go through all of that we do have some supportive housing programs that we run out of this center.”

Buzzetta is a social worker who has been working with the coalition for more than seven years.

“Used to do street outreach as a direct caseworker I used to manage a couple of housing programs and really I’m here because I want to get people off the streets there’s a lot of people here who have a lot of stories of trauma hard times and there’s really just a lot of people who want to get off the streets and do better with their lives.”

Right now the biggest problem homeless people are facing is the heat.

“The heat’s a problem we are always looking at the weather as it impacts homelessness because it’s not just the mental health problems, addiction.  There’s also a physical component for homelessness as well.  Extreme heat, extreme cold there’s a lot of health issues that can impact people that are living on the streets and we always are on the lookout for those as well so I try to make sure people are hydrated, make sure people have sunscreen.  Whatever they need to beat the heat right now.”

Buzzetta says they are always in need of volunteers to work with the people who come through the center.

While Easily doesn’t have a paying job right now because of mental issues, he does work every day and does what he can.

Right now just becoming a volunteer I help out in different places I’ve been picking up I’ve been helping out in different communities.  I just grab a couple of bags every day and I pick up in different areas you know paper off the ground.

He is glad to have a place like the homeless coalition center to come to.

“This place has helped us out tremendously they take care of us I mean really good.”

Easley loves this area has this parting message for the people.

“Thank you Central Louisiana the homeless love ya’ll please don’t give up on us, please have faith thank you.”

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