LAFAYETTE — A Lafayette business owner is raising money to help people who are experiencing homelessness or are in danger of losing their homes amid the pandemic.
Donations to the Lost My Home Fund will go directly to Catholic Charities. The money will then be distributed to various organizations that help those particular individuals.
According to the Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness, the number of homeless residents in Acadiana rose to nearly 800 last month.
About 300 families are currently living in hotels, including about 80 kids, and those numbers are still expected to grow.
Some people, like Anthony Barthlett, say getting help and finding work has been particularly difficult since the pandemic started.
Barthlett has experienced homelessness for the past 15 years. He's currently unemployed and relies on the St. Joseph Shelter for food.
"I'm looking for work, and there are no businesses hardly open, and the ones that are open just don't have the business to justify hiring you," explained Barthlett.
Barthlett is among the nearly 600 people in Lafayette who are currently experiencing homelessness.
The data came as a shock to Gus Rezende, who started the Lost My Home Fund.
"I was blown away. I've always known that it's been an issue, not just in our town but in our country in general," said Rezende. "But with COVID-19, the situation has escalated to a level where homeless is touching a lot of people and people that we know in everyday basis."
Rezende started the Lost My Home Fund to help people like Barthlett get back on their feet.
"It makes me feel wonderful," said Barthlett. "There's a lot of people that are just less fortunate, and that could be really helpful to them."
Bartlett is also hoping the publicity of the fundraiser helps remove the stigma of homelessness.
"The truth is there are some wonderful homeless people out here that are very intelligent and just have lost their way," said Barthlett. "Instead of maybe judging them, maybe prayer would be the thing."
The deadline to donate to the Lost My Home fund has been extended until Friday, July 10.
Tomorrow, the local indie rock band Brass Bed will be releasing a cover of John Lenon's Imagine. If you make a minimum five-dollar donation to the fund, you will be able to download the song for free via Bandcamp or Social Entertainment.
So far, about $12,000 have been raised, but organizers are hoping to meet their goal of $50,000.
Click here to make a donation.