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."
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Oscar de la Renta dies; Pistorius sentenced; World Series begins and more national and international news for Tuesday, October 21, 2014.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
Did the state close last year's books with a surplus or a deficit?
Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
The messaging battle, however, isn't tied to individual campaign accounts. Third-party groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising.
With her political future in jeopardy, Sen. Mary Landrieu is turning to a natural constituent base in her re-election bid.
Terrance Broadway threw for a touchdown and rushed for 113 yards to lead Louisiana-Lafayette to a 34-10 victory over Texas State on Tuesday night.