In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency shelter providers in the region have had to make adjustments to the way they provide their services.
With shelters following social distancing guidelines, they just can't hold as many people as they normally would. And if all these people have to stay on the streets that translates to more chances for the spread of the virus.
"We know that unsheltered homeless individuals can contribute to community spread of COVID-19 and so it is critical that we help everybody access safe shelter," says Leigh Rachal, Executive Director for the Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness and Housing, or ARCH.
A stay home order can only truly be effective if everybody has a place to stay. And while the demand for shelter is climbing, safe places for the homeless in many communities have been at capacity for about a week.
"We anticipate that there's going to be a need over the next several months for this to continue, so as we're talking long term planning we're talking about 100 plus households that will need expanded emergency housing in Acadiana," says Rachal.
ARCH has found places where homeless, especially those at high risk for infection, can isolate themselves during this pandemic.
"We have partnerships with hotels that allow us to house individuals for $30 a night. All of those have refrigerators and microwaves so that they can do some food preparation while they're in hotels," says Rachal, but the hotels will only be available as long as funding is available.
Right now ARCH is relying completely on donations from the public.
"The number that we've been saying we think we'll need to raise before the state or federal funding is able to help us is about $60,000 dollars and right now we're just over $4,000, so we have quite a way to go before we are able to adequately meet this need in the Acadiana area," says Rachal.
It is easy to give by texting "DONATE" to 337-242-7688 or by visiting ARCH's website.