BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The City of Baton Rouge is making a $1 million investment in helping the homeless. It comes from a Community Development Block gr ant allowing the St. Vincent de Paul Society to undergo a major expansion.
Homelessness is a growing problem right under our noses. Visit almost any busy intersection in Baton Rouge and you will likely see someone begging for change. President and CEO of St. Vincent de Paul, Michael Acaldo, has watched the homeless population grow for three decades.
"Every day at our main campus, we see between 500 and 1,000 different people," Acaldo said.
Acaldo says most of them are "un-sheltered homeless," meaning they visit the Bishop Ott Day Center, get a meal or two, do laundry, and enjoy the air conditioning. But when night falls, they are back on the streets.
"When bad weather hits, under an overpass or in the woods somewhere is not the place to be," Acaldo said.
St. Vincent de Paul opens its doors in emergencies to offer them shelter. But lately, Acaldo says it seems even with an expansion, which added 46 more beds, the 500-square foot facility is not big enough to house the number of people who seek help. That is about to change.
St. Vincent de Paul is about to break ground on a 3,500-square foot facility aimed at not just housing the needy but also help break the cycle.
"Computers will be available to our guests so they can access services in the community, but also fill out job apps and other things online, and puts them in the position of getting a hand up out of homelessness," Acaldo said.
The expansion will include 36 more beds, bringing the shelter's overnight capacity to over 200. Acaldo says it will also include a special space for homeless families, a group that has unfortunately resulted in a larger demand. Acaldo says they plan to break ground on the new building this summer and open next spring.