Two downtown Lafayette shelters for homeless men and male veterans will see renovations next year for the first time since the facilities opened almost three decades ago.
St. Joseph Men’s Shelter and the St. Michael Center for Veterans, both at 425 St. John St., will be refloored and repainted, with upgrades set for the facilities’ bathrooms and drainage systems. The parking lot also will be resurfaced.
Kim Boudreaux, executive director for Catholic Services of Acadiana, which operates the facilities, said the renovations are needed after housing 58 men each night since 1983.
“It’s gotten a lot of use over the years,” Boudreaux said.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday approved dedicating $650,000 in federal grant funds for the project, which Boudreaux said should cover most of the renovations needed under the shelters’ master plan.
“We just want to continue providing a safe and health facility for those experiencing homelessness,” Boudreaux said.
The funds come from a leftover fund balance from the Community Development Block Grant Program, said Patricia Leyendecker, head of Lafayette Consolidated Government’s Community Development Department.
“If we have funds left over from previous years, we can use that for approved projects. So that’s what we’re doing for Catholic Services,” Leyendecker said.
The grant program funds are administered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provides money for urban areas to invest in housing for low- and moderate-income people.
Lafayette Consolidated Government will receive $1.26 million in Community Development Block Grant funds this year, Leyendecker said.
Other programs funded in part through the program include Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes in Lafayette neighborhoods, and Rebuilding Together Acadiana, which funds renovations for about eight to 10 families who need home renovations to meet code regulations.
The shelter renovations are coming at a time when the community is working to expand services for homeless people, especially those who may be booked into jail for petty crimes before gaining access to the limited shelter space in Lafayette.
Catholic Services is still searching for a facility to house a “low-barrier” shelter that imposes fewer restrictions for a homeless person seeking secure shelter for the night.
Traditional shelters such as the Salvation Army’s 36-bed shelter on Evangeline Thruway tend to have stringent admission policies when it comes to intoxication. People will be allowed into the low-barrier shelter if they’re under the influence or suffering from mental illness, as long as they don’t need medical attention.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.