BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – We are a little more than a week away from summer but the heat has already turned up in Louisiana. And with rising temperatures, the homeless population is at a high risk of heat-related illnesses. One Baton Rouge homeless shelter shared what they are doing to help with the issue.

“Because these are human beings, you know, these are folks living outdoors, they have stories, they got backgrounds,” explained Matthew Pham, development director at the Christian Outreach Center.

According to the data from the state of Louisiana, in 2019 there were 353 homeless people in the Capital Area. Pham said after the COVID-19 pandemic they are sure numbers are higher.

“Things like that, we know that housing has become less and less affordable,” said Pham.

With homelessness numbers increasing and the temperature rising, Pham said several organizations are coming together to help the homeless including Christian Outreach Center and One Stop.

“We have cool water, hygiene kits. We’ve also got snack bags and fresh clothes that we can help you with,” said Pham. “Over at the One Stop, they have showers and laundry and also help with housing.”

With some shelters not taking in anyone at this time, Pham said there are ways the homeless population can stay safe this summer. He said they should stay in the shade and stay hydrated.

Right now, the East Baton Rouge Metro Council is considering a ban on camping in public spaces. Pham said if it passes it will be harder to help those in need.

“We believe that the shelters are already at capacity and that if we were to drop folks into, let’s say a jail cell overnight to just give them A/C, it moves them further away from becoming self-sustainable in the long term,” said Pham.

He said the only way to truly help is for the community to come together.

“It’s going to take all of us as a community coming up with a creative solution,” said Pham. “Handing out water is an excellent way to keep someone hydrated but it is definitely not a long-term solution.”