SLIDELL, La. (WGNO) - Slidell police have a new problem on their hands: aggressive panhandlers.
The police department is focusing on the intersection of Gause Boulevard and I-10 where over the past several months they've been getting complaints about transients sleeping in the roadways, littering, knocking on car windows, and spraying water on windshields.
Chuck Robinson who now lives in the area says, “They're trying to hustle for money at the window and they're far more aggressive than what I’m seeing in New Orleans. To peck on a window, that's a no, no.”
Judy Barrios drives through the area often and says, “It's just a little scary sometimes.”
Janet Patton lives nearby and explains, “Recently it's just gotten much more obvious and just a lot more people.”
The Slidell Police Department says they're dealing with the problem through Operation Clean Sweep, a program that puts more cops at hot spots and brings in jail trustees to cleanup any trash that's left behind.
Mary Holland, Executive Director of The Caring Center of Slidell, one of the areas only homeless shelters, says they closed in September to renovate and fears with barely any resources in the parish and a growing homeless population they'll continue to turn to the streets.
“In Slidell we've had more of our locals become homeless. We do have some transient population because the interstate is all around. I would say that if they're getting aggressive it's probably extreme frustration with not being able to get enough help,” explains Holland.
Holland plans to re-open next month with additional beds. She says it'll take more than Operation Clean Sweep to really clean up the streets and hopes the state will realize the problem and allocate proper funding to give those on the streets the help they need to get back on their feet.
As for Slidell Police, they say they’ll also be looking for any illegal activity and making arrests as needed. So far they’ve arrested at least four people.
If you’d like to support The Caring Center of Slidell you can send donations to P.O. Box 1323, Slidell, Louisiana 70459