Human resources

Resources available for the homeless population during extreme temperatures

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — We’re just over a week away from summer but the heat has already turned up in Louisiana. And with rising temperatures, the homeless population is at high risk of heat-related illnesses. A Baton Rouge homeless shelter has shared what it is doing to address the issue.

“Because they’re human beings, you know, they’re people who live on the outside, they have stories, they have backgrounds,” said Matthew Pham, director of development at the Christian Outreach Center.

According to data from the state of Louisiana, in 2019 there were 353 homeless people in the capital area. Pham said after the COVID-19 pandemic they are sure the numbers are higher.

“Things like that, we know housing has become less and less affordable,” Pham said.

With the number of homeless people rising and the temperature rising, Pham said several organizations are coming together to help the homeless, including Christian Outreach Center and One Stop.

“We have fresh water, hygiene kits. We also have snack bags and fresh clothes that we can help you with,” Pham said. “At One Stop they have showers and laundry and also help with housing.”

With some shelters currently not welcoming anyone, Pham said there are ways the homeless population can stay safe this summer. He said they should stay in the shade and stay hydrated.

Currently, the East Baton Rouge Metro Board is considering banning camping in public spaces. Pham said if he succeeds, it will be harder to help those in need.

“We think shelters are already at capacity and if we were to drop people into, say, a jail cell overnight to just give them air conditioning, that would take them further away from long-term self-sufficiency,” Pham said.

He said the only way to really help is for the community to come together.

“It’s going to require all of us as a community to come up with a creative solution,” Pham said. “Dispensing water is a great way to keep someone hydrated, but it’s definitely not a long-term solution.”