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."
Business organizations opposed the proposal, saying it would lead to job losses and higher prices for goods and services.
An attempt to repeal a six-year-old law that permits public school science teachers to use material outside a classroom's adopted textbook has been rejected by the Senate Education Committee.
New York Times poll shows Obama, Jindal have identical approval and disapproval ratings in the state.
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.