Homelessness on the rise in Alexandria, officials encouraging people not to give cash to panhandlers

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 3:56 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Alexandria Mayor Jeff Hall held his monthly ‘State of the Community’ address on Thursday, September 23. He shared, there’s been an increase in homelessness in the city.

Central Louisiana Homeless Coalition Executive Director Joseph Buzzetta attributes the growth to different factors.

Some are experiencing homelessness because of the COVID-19 pandemic, or recent storms like Hurricane Ida.

CLHC said it’s also seeing a lot more individuals with mental illness and substance abuse, with the two often tied together.

One of the biggest issues Buzzetta shared was the lack of housing and shelter capacity here in Alexandria.

Because of major hurricanes like Laura, Delta, Zeta and now Ida, Buzzetta said many people come to the mega shelter in Alexandria. When they don’t have a place to go back home to, they usually choose to start over here in our city; something Buzzetta expects to happen here in the next month or so due to Ida.

“I haven’t seen that from the mega-shelter yet, but there have been a few that are trickling in,” said CLHC Executive Director Joseph Buzzetta. “I do anticipate probably within the next month or so as the shelter depopulates, we’re going to see that more and more. But also what we’re seeing too is people who didn’t make it onto transportation to the mega-shelter, they’re starting to come up more and more from the south as well, so it’s not just the mega-shelter, it’s also other areas that we’re running into as well.”

The issue of panhandling is also being addressed. Now, the City of Alexandria is placing signs around the city, encouraging people to not give cash to panhandlers.

Instead, they recommend giving out meals, blankets, bug spray and even hand warmers for these cooler temperatures coming up.

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