Lafayette City Council to vote on $1 million for new homeless shelter

The Lafayette City Council could spend $1 million to help build a new homeless shelter this month as the area’s homeless population continues to grow.

The Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness and Housing is set to receive $1 million in federal stimulus funds from the city if city council approves Councilman Glenn Lazard’s proposal to do so at its next meeting on July 19.

“From day one, I felt… that a significant portion of these funds should be spent on what I call human infrastructure. … It’s about housing and homelessness, disparities in health and well-being,” Lazard said Tuesday.

“At this point, we haven’t spent a penny of our $38 million to address these issues, these economic disparities, which are clearly documented,” he said.

The funds would support efforts to build a new $11 million shelter for the area’s homeless population.

CAMBER:We housed 1,700 homeless people in 2021

ARCH’s acting executive director, Elsa Dimitriadis, said the need for more accommodation space has increased during the COVID pandemic and may continue to increase as a federally funded program that has helped housing families in Acadiana is set to expire in the coming weeks.

“To be clear, we currently have no shelter beds available in Lafayette Parish,” Dimitriadis said. “Our (Emergency Solutions Grant) funded homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing program will end at the end of August.

“This is a program that has served thousands of people. We will see an immediate and steep increase in homelessness then.”

Dimitriadis told the council on Tuesday that the new facility, called HearthStone Community Shelter, would be able to serve 100 households and would support itself financially by charging a “very affordable” cost for housing to half of those families.

A man holds a sign asking for money next to a street sign put up last year which warns motorists that begging is not safe.  The Lafayette City Council could spend $1 million to help build a new homeless shelter this month as the area's homeless population continues to grow.

“It would serve 100 households,” she said. “Fifty of these households will be served through a shelter model. The other 50 would be very affordable housing in the same location, so the operations would be covered by those very affordable housing.

“So while the investment we’re asking for would get us started, long-term sustainability would be built in through this affordable housing.”

The city’s $1 million for the project is believed to come from its $38.3 million in federal COVID funds that were awarded in 2021 as part of the U.S. bailout.

Mayor-Chairman Josh Guillory has already exceeded council plans for this funding by investing $21.6 million in downtown drainage and infrastructure improvements using an unconventional veto.

Veto Lafayette:Guillory defies unified councils and will spend COVID-19 funds on infrastructure

Lafayette mayor's chair, Josh Guillory.  Tuesday, October 19, 2021.

Another Guillory veto, which would require a four-vote majority of five city council members to override, presents a potential challenge to the plan, though it’s unclear so far how serious that threat may be. realistic.

Funding for the shelter was not included in Guillory’s original budget for federal COVID relief funds, which focused almost exclusively on infrastructure spending.

From 2021:Josh Guillory plans 70-project budget for LCG’s $86 million in federal funding

In a statement Wednesday, Guillory said his administration would consider the need for the new shelter and city funding before deciding on a veto.

“We will review and assess the needs, review the resources the organization currently has or expects to receive, and look forward to further discussions at the next board meeting,” he said.

Follow Andrew Capps on Twitter or email acapps@theadvertiser.com.

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