New emergency shelter for women & children opens in Lafayette

Posted at 6:33 PM, Apr 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-06 19:33:26-04

Catholic Services of Acadiana is extending their help to homeless women and children in Lafayette. 

Officials say the new emergency shelter The Emily House will allow them to offer better services to the women of Acadiana.

"When we imagine the pregnant women trying to get comfortable sleeping outside on the cement, well, I know my heart breaks. And I know that I say: not here, not in Acadiana," said Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness & Housing Executive Director Leigh Rachal.

Catholic Services of Acadiana officials say the former women’s shelter in Opelousas was not only expensive to maintain, but its location was causing complications for those who were staying there.

"We were having to uproot their lives, their children’s lives; pulling the children out of school to move them to a new school system. And then, when they were returning to housing, they were returning back to Lafayette, to their community of origin and back to another school, and it was very disruptive to the majority of women we were servicing," said Catholic Services of Acadiana Executive Director Kimberly Broussard. 

The new emergency shelter has 48 beds and is specifically designed for homeless women with children or who are expecting.

At the grand opening, Bishop Douglas Deshotel with the Diocese of Lafayette reminded everyone that dedication to charity is one of the central missions of Christians. 

"The Lord welcomes into his kingdom those who gave food to the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, visited the imprisoned and those who were sick because as often as it’s done for the least of the brethren, we do it for Him," said Bishop Deshotel. 

The Emily House will open its doors in a few weeks, and the organization is hoping to help women and children get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

"Homelessness is hard on anyone, but especially for women and children. So, the idea is to make sure that experiences inside of a shelter are rare and very brief, and returning folks to stability in permanent housing as soon as possible," said Catholic Services of Acadiana External Affairs Director Ben Broussard.