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Livingston Parish Council to vote on ordinance that fines people living in tents in public areas Thursday

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UPDATE: Livingston Parish passed the ordinance to ban camping on public property in a vote Thursday night.

LIVINGSTON - A national data collection organization reports that here are more than 7,000 homeless people in Louisiana this year. It's not just in the big cities, as the sad situation is spreading into the rural areas.

"I think they should lower the rent, and put some of these people in these apartments," Francis Seymour, owner and operator of the House of Serenity homeless shelter, said.

Seymour has owned the only Tangipahoa homeless shelter for the last 22 years. She says this year is the worst she has seen. By noon on Thursday, she had 20 phone calls requesting a bed.

"I have 36 beds, I could have filled them up today if I had any available," Seymour said.

In Denham Springs, a picture was posted on Facebook last month showing a person outside of a tent near the Home Depot. Councilwoman Erin Sandefur told The Advocate she's been getting complaints from businesses near the interstate about homeless camps. That's why she proposed passing the same ordinance that Baton Rouge metro council passed last August.

The ordinance fines people living in tents in public areas, after police find them a shelter.

Seymour says finding a shelter bed is near impossible, since they are only located in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Ponchatoula, and Mississippi.

"Where are they going to go, What, will you throw them in jail? That's not fair. I don't know what is the answer," Seymour said.

Here's the full ordinance for those interested.

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