There is one question, however, that is never addressed in these stories.
Who are these people, and how did they become homeless?
That's what Independent Weekly contributor Dege Legg hoped to answer when he set out on a difficult quest: spend a week homeless in Lafayette and document the experience.
Legg grew his beard before he set out on the streets. And when he left the comforts of home behind, he also left behind his cell phone, computer, and any other communication devices. He only carried a backpack and one change of clothes. It's immersion journalism, the writer's equivalent of the method-acting technique famously epitomized by Robert De Niro's transformation to portray Jake La Motta in Raging Bull.
You can read the results of Legg's week in this issue's cover story, "Slipping Through the Cracks."
It took Legg a few days to earn the trust of Allison, Jason, Just Dave, Keith, and the other homeless people he met. Eventually, everyone in their homeless circle all had the same request: If we tell you our stories, please don't print our last name. Some don't want to bring further shame to their family. Some have criminal records and fear retribution from the police. They did, however, agree to be photographed, so we've honored their request not to use their last names. You can view additional photos and hear interviews with Allison, Jason and Keith online at www.theind.com. (Warning: the audio interviews contain graphic language and adult content.)
One of Legg's discoveries was a "tramp camp" in Lafayette. Tucked away from public view, the secret encampment houses more than a dozen occupants, and Legg learned the unspoken hierarchy of the homeless during his nights at the camp.
The stories that emerge out of the tramp camp are incongruous with the narrative that currently defines Acadiana and its future. Our oil and gas sector is thriving, the local economy continues to grow, our unemployment rate is currently the lowest in the state, and development continues at a brisk pace.
One of the few consequences of such continued good news is the unintended effect of threatening the more vulnerable members of our community ' especially when it comes to housing. A shortage of affordable lower-income housing (both for rent and purchase) continues to squeeze struggling working-class families who fall into the region's unacceptable poverty level. According to the 2000 Census, more than 21 percent of Acadiana families live below the poverty level, while 15 percent fall into that category in Lafayette.
For those people, sometimes one unexpected event ' a work accident, hospitalization, getting laid off ' can mean the difference between having a roof over their heads or being homeless. As our cover subject Allison says, "There are a lot of people out there who are only one paycheck away from being like us."
The Lafayette superintendent insists the budget is illegal and vows to fight on.
"I am not a scientist," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said numerous times, a response that other members of his party have parroted.
Republicans are running strong races against endangered Democratic incumbents in states such as North Carolina, Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska. Republicans are also looking to replace retiring Democrats in Iowa and West Virginia with a GOP lawmaker.
Republican congressman Vance McAllister is trying to make up to Louisiana voters for getting too close to a married former employee.
You may not like all of “it,” but U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, unlike many of her colleagues, isn't sitting around twiddling her thumbs in Congress.
Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro says he "can't wait" to play against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The heat keeps rising for Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal as a new slate of corruption allegations surfaced this week.
If opposing defenses sell out to stop the Packers' passing game, they risk being gashed by powerful running back Eddie Lacy, a New Orleans-area native.
At the horn the officiating crew trotted to the tunnel and left security personnel to clean up after them.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Sign "ninjas" cleaning up clutter; NYC doctor positive for Ebola; Ferguson grand jury decision nears; and more national and international news for Friday, October 24, 2014.
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.