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."
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.