Renewed federal grant ensures operation of homeless programs

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Services for the homeless in Baton Rouge are about to get a boost. Millions of dollars in federal grant money is coming to our local homeless service providers.

"Having to stay here and there it's a little humbling...or should I say a whole lot humbling. It's an experience I wouldn't want anyone else to go through," said Tiffany Davis, a new client at St. Vincent de Paul's Bishop Ott Center.

But Davis says her week at the Bishop Ott center is helping her turn things around.

"They've helped me tremendously...I mean with finding work, having shelter and not having to worry about where your next meal's coming from. They give us a lot of help," said Davis.

Thanks to a US Housing and Urban Development grant renewal, Davis and thousands of other people looking for homes around the state can get the assistance they need. The money isn't only for traditional homeless shelters. The grant will help the HIV-AIDS Alliance for Region Two (HAART) continue to provide transitional housing and other services for those with HIV. HAART's Timothy Young admits this year's federal cuts had him a little nervous.

"We've been fortunate to have this funding for a number of years, and we're glad that it wasn't endangered this year," said Young.

Overall,  $28 million  will be split among 167 agencies around our state. St. Vincent de Paul president Michael Acaldo says between their Bishop Ott Center and Myriam's House they will have $200,000 more to help those who need it most.

"Helping us to outreach to the homeless, provide life skills education, all the case management and other supportive services that are so important in helping people get their lives back together again," said Acaldo.

Davis is thankful there is money out there to help people like her, get back on her feet.

"When they get money donated, they're able to get bus passes so people can go to find a job," said Davis. "They're able to have paper to where they can print out stuff for us to help us learn."

While the funding will not come immediately, Acaldo says just knowing it's on the way gives a little peace of mind.

This federal grant will mean nearly $2 million to the 18 homeless service providers in Baton Rouge this year.

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