With freezing temps on the way, ARCH looking to raise funds to keep homeless off streets

Lafayette Parish

A man stands near tents set up on a sidewalk in San Francisco, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. Some counties in California are pushing ahead with plans to wind down a program that’s housed homeless people in hotel rooms amid the pandemic, despite an emergency cash infusion from the state aimed at preventing those same residents from returning to the streets in cold, rainy weather as the virus surges. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — It’s almost a worst-case scenario: COVID-19 has limited the number of beds local homeless shelters can offer while simultaneously increasing the number of unsheltered people in Acadiana.

The Acadiana Regional Housing Coalition on Homelessness & Housing (ARCH) said this means that an increasing number of homeless people will have no other option but to sleep on the streets with freezing temperatures on the way.

“It doesn’t have to be very cold for people to suffer from exposure,” says Leigh Rachal, Executive Director of ARCH. “When you’re just sitting still for an hour outside, you start to realize how impactful the cold really is. Everyone needs a safe place to get in out of the cold.”

Throughout the pandemic, ARCH said they have been able to utilize local hotel and motel rooms as a temporary housing solution. From there, ARCH case managers work individually with clients in order to transition them to permanent housing. ARCH said they are very proud of their success in keeping clients safe from COVID-19 and on their way to long term stability, but they need the community’s help now to swiftly move those who have no choice but to stay out in the cold into temporary, safe shelter.

“In order for us to house everyone in need for just two nights, we are looking at a cost of about $3,000,” Rachal says. “If you consider that we will have multiple freezes throughout the winter, you see that we just can’t do it without our communities’ support.”

If the public is interested in donating, they can visit bit.ly/freezefund to make a safe donation. Those interested in giving by check, please mail to: ARCH, PO Box 3936, Lafayette, LA 70502. If you would like more information about giving options, please email arch@archacadiana.org.

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