The state will begin the process this week of relocating nearly 175 homeless in East Baton Rouge Parish from three local hotels—where they have been living since early in the pandemic crisis—to what is hoped will be more permanent housing sites.
Since April, the Louisiana Housing Corporation, with funding from FEMA, has been housing the homeless populations in Baton Rouge and New Orleans in hotels, which locally includes the LaQuinta Inn on Reiger Road, Woodsprings Suites on Airline Highway and Woodsprings Suites on N. Harrel’s Ferry Road.
But the program was scheduled to end at the end of August, and LHC will begin meeting with individuals this week and assessing their situations in hopes of finding long-term options that meet their needs.
“The hope is they will be placed into safe and sanitary housing and not end up back on the streets,” says Perry Franklin of Franklin Associates, whose firm has been working with LHC on the program since last spring. “Case managers will come in with an awareness of affordable options in East Baton Rouge Parish and begin placing them.”
In the months since the program began, LHC and partner agencies have been working with those staying in the hotels to get them “housing ready,” Franklin says, offering wrap-around services that include behavioral health and substance abuse.
Franklin could not say how many of those in the program have taken advantage of those services, which were not mandatory. But he says there are adequate housing options in the parish. The key is to make sure homeless individuals have the skills and resources to take advantage of them.
“The hope is, at the end of the day, when this wraps up, there are going to be fewer people who are truly homeless in East Baton Rouge,” he says. “Through this process of active case management the vision and hope is that these individuals will not find homelessness as their only option in life.”