St. Joseph Diner turned into a second shelter for the homeless during COVID-19


LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- Across Louisiana, people are being told to shelter in place, including those without homes.
There are hundreds of people without a permanent residence in Acadiana today.

Nearly 400 homeless people in Acadiana are no longer just fighting the dangers of the streets or seeking shelter for overnight but are trying to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

Those who help the homeless are making changes to their services.

“Our brothers and sisters here in our community who are experiencing homelessness, they need our help too,” said Ben Broussard, communication officer for Catholic Charities of Acadiana.

He’s one of many working remotely to still serve those who are displaced.

“On any given night, Catholic Charities of Acadiana across our sheltering programs will provide shelter for 130 to 150 individuals who are experiencing homelessness in our community,” said Broussard.

With new state orders put in place regarding the coronavirus,  the men’s shelter downtown is considered at maximum capacity. Normally, you’ll see clients waiting for
St. Joseph diner to open, but not anymore.

“We’ve actually had to suspend services at St. Joseph Diner in order to make more room for those experiencing homelessness,” Broussard said.

The diner is now used as a second shelter. Broussard mentioned the staff is fully geared and prepared to enforce the safety regulations.

“We’ve been involved in responding to disaster for 20 to 30 years. We take every precaution seriously. Everything that the CDC has asked us to do, in terms of social distancing, hand washing, and not touching your face,” he added. “We can’t say it enough, we’re going to do the same in order to keep those that we serve safe.”

In the meantime, the public is encouraged to make online monetary donations as they brace for the impacts of COVID-19 to limit their resources.

Acadiana VOAD representatives say it’s the most secure way.

“We really want to keep these folks where they’re getting the services they need. Not, temp them to go out into the community with offers of assistance and help,” said Melinda Taylor, chair of Acadiana VOAD.

Although the eating area in the diner is suspended, meals are still being provided to their clients.

Anyone interested in donating to further supplies for Catholic Charities, click here

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