‘Tent City’ shut down, but homeless center needs the community’s help

(Provided Photo/WLFI)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — West Lafayette police say the former “Tent City” is now cleared out after two stabbings were reported at the homeless campsite last week. But that has since increased the demand for homeless services in Greater Lafayette.

West Lafayette Police Department worked with the Lafayette Transitional Housing Center to find proper housing and other resources for those in need. The center’s executive director says resources are becoming thin, and now the center needs the community’s help.

“Most people see them, and they think they’re scary people. No, we’re human beings. We have feelings, and we’re trying to overcome our past to make a better future,” said Kyle Phillips, who has been homeless since 2011.

Phillips said he is familiar with the former “Tent City” and the homeless population in that area.

“There’s a lot of people down there staying down there that are homeless,” Phillips said. “And if they had a station like this down there, they won’t have anymore problems – I can guarantee it. There won’t be no more violence.”

Phillips said a station, such as the Lafayette Transitional Housing Center, is what’s needed.

“We help people learn how to budget, figure out what they can do, what kind of housing they can afford, those are easy folks. Some other folks need some kind of assistance,” said Jennifer Layton, Lafayette Transitional Housing Center’s executive director.

She said the center is open seven days a week.

Layton wasn’t surprised to hear there was a “Tent City” because she says the homeless population is growing.

“Just recently, over the last couple of months, we’ve continued to see around a 20 percent increase this year over last,” Layton said.

She says there isn’t a specific cause. But the increase is thinning resources at the Housing Center.

“We’re averaging around 65 people per meal, per day,” said Layton. “Where we’re having three meals a day, that’s a lot of plates we’re going through.”

That’s how the Greater Lafayette community can help. She says you can take time to volunteer at the center or drop off things like paper plates.

However, the main goal is to get people off the streets.

“The more the community understands who we have and how many people, really what it looks like, the more they really should get interested in helping us solve this problem. Homelessness is solvable,” Layton said.

Phillips added, “There should be more places like this. It made me cry I was so happy that I found this place. I absolutely love it here, it feels like home.”

If you need help and/or social services, please call 211. It can help people locate areas such as food pantries or homeless shelters.

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