BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – About half of the Baton Rouge population is one emergency away from being homeless. Services are available, but that doesn’t mean everyone in the community knows how to access the help that’s available.

“East Baton Rouge Parish recently stated that roughly 50% of the parish’s residents are experiencing rent burden, which means paying more than 30% of their household income towards maintaining housing,” said Rachel Haney, director of public relations at Louisiana Balance of State Continuum of Care. “This means that nearly one of every two households in the parish could possibly experience homelessness as a result of an unexpected household expense.”

Haney said the organization’s Coordinated Entry System served 1,592 individuals who were experiencing homelessness between October 2021 and August 2022. While Louisiana Balance of State Continuum of Care’s Baton Rouge region covers the entire Greater Baton Rouge area, most people living without shelter are in East Baton Rouge Parish.

On Dec. 26, a video showing a convenience store worker pouring ice water on a homeless person in freezing cold temperatures went viral. The worker was arrested and is facing simple battery charges.

The case brought the plight of Baton Rouge’s homeless population, particularly during an extreme cold snap, to the forefront of community conversations.

But if you want to help someone, including yourself or your family, what does that process look like? Here’s who to contact and how.

What’s the first step in getting help for a homeless person?

“If you are a member of the public who has interacted with or observed someone experiencing unsheltered homelessness, there are better ways to connect those persons with resources than calling 911. Any member of the public can provide information to the LA BOSCOC’s Baton Rouge Street Outreach Network through our Outreach Portal,” said Haney.

People submitting information through the Outreach Portal can choose to provide their contact information or can report anonymously. (The Outreach Portal is not an emergency response tool.)

Haney says people experiencing homelessness can self-report to connect with Street Outreach teams if they are unable to access the coordinated entry points.

How can I find a shelter in or around Baton Rouge?

For anyone that needs immediate housing, start through the state’s Coordinated Entry Access Points. Those experiencing homelessness can contact an access point and be connected to the full array of services and resources that they are eligible for. 

“Coordinated Entry can connect people experiencing homelessness with shelter, as available, case management, and access to resources designed to assist people in resolving their housing crises and remove barriers to housing stability as well as rental assistance as available,” said Haney.

The system is also designed to help Louisiana residents facing foreclosure, and eviction and provides assistance to domestic violence victims trying to leave a dangerous situation.

East Baton Rouge’s access points are Start Corporation at the One Stop, St. Vincent de Paul, Youth Oasis, Empower 225, Iris Domestic Violence Center and Open Health Care Clinic. These access points also operate for Ascension, East Feliciana, Iberville, Point Coupee, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes.

EBRP Housing Authority4731 North Boulevard
Louisiana Housing Corporation2415 Quail Drive
The Salvation Army7361 Airline Highway
Start Corporation at the One Stop153 North 17th Street
St. Vincent de Paul1623 Convention Street
Youth OasisYoung adults 18-24 only
Empower 225Young adults 18-24 only
4829 Winbourne Avenue
Iris Domestic Violence CenterCrisis Line: 225-389-3001
Housing and Services: 225-389-3002
Open Health Care Clinic3849 North Boulevard
All places are located in Baton Rouge

What about a temporary home?

In East Baton Rouge Parish, the mayor’s Homelessness Prevention Coalition acts as a guide for those in need of emergency shelter and housing assistance. (Any facility that has a primary focus on providing temporary shelter and doesn’t require people to sign a lease is an emergency shelter.)

There are five housing service providers that operate for the entire parish: EBRP Housing Authority (EBRPHA), Louisiana Housing Corporation (LHC), The Salvation Army, The Scott School and Tiny Homes.

EBRPHA is an affordable housing program that offers rental assistance to low-income families and individuals. Currently, there are 12 affordable housing communities that contain 879 units. To learn more about EBRPHA’s housing options, click here.

LHC’s goal is to make sure every Louisiana resident has safe, affordable and energy-efficient housing. LHC gives out grants to housing programs to help low-income to moderate-income families become homeowners, offers an energy-assistance program, and funds public housing.

What does long-term recovery look like?

“The ultimate solution to homelessness is, of course, greater access to deeply affordable housing, which is our mission at LHC,” Haney said.

Haney says there are diverse experiences of homelessness.

“The common conversations around homelessness often center around the people who are most visibly experiencing homelessness, including people with severe mental health concerns and layered barriers to regaining housing stability,” said Haney. “Part of this population may need extensive help in obtaining identification documents and other eligibility paperwork, access to behavioral health resources and removing financial and legal barriers to be able to find a stable housing situation.”

Many people who experience homelessness are employed or receive income from sources like Social Security, and coordinated entry was designed to help people get access to resources like job training and assistance in applying for disability benefits.

“However, many people experiencing homelessness in Baton Rouge are having their first experiences with homelessness due to disrupted household economic situations, like a sudden loss of income or transportation or unexpected medical expenses. These households are often able to regain housing stability without long term resource provision,” said Haney. “For others with more severe service needs, being connected with case management resources that provide ongoing support services and housing resources that provide ongoing rental assistance may be essential to their continued housing stabilization.”