Catholic Charities scrambles to fund homeless shelter after Landry cut funding

Two workers unpack boxes in a room
Landry’s veto came just as Catholic Charities has been preparing to move shelter operations back to its St. John Street location, which recently underwent $1.8 million in renovations funded by a state grant. Photo by Travis Gauthier

Catholic Charities of Acadiana on Tuesday sent out an email asking for donations to supplement funding for its emergency shelter after a recent decision by Gov. Jeff Landry to cut $1M in state funds that had been allocated to operate the shelter.

In an urgent request to the public, Catholic Charities CEO Kim Boudreaux said the funds were “vital to [Catholic Charities’] mission of providing the safety of emergency shelter,” and that losing them represented “a shocking setback” in those efforts.

At a recent meeting to discuss potential solutions for homelessness and the lack of affordable housing in Acadiana, Boudreaux noted that the governor’s decision threw her organization “further into crisis” when it comes to dealing with those challenges.

Catholic Charities’ emergency shelter serves as a transition between the street and permanent housing, allowing people to get out of the elements and, ideally, find a more permanent place for them to live.

Gov. Landry in a written statement on June 26 cited immigration as a key factor in his decision to veto the funds. “Part of Catholic Charities’ mission is to support the influx of illegal aliens into our country,” Landry said. “Taxpayers should never foot the bill for nonprofits who are contributing to the illegal immigration crisis our nation is facing.”

Catholic Charities of Acadiana does provide low-cost legal aid to immigrants in the process of applying for work authorization, permanent residency or citizenship, among other legal immigration services. The funds vetoed by Landry, however, did not go to support those services and were set aside specifically for shelter operations.

Catholic Charities shelters 87 homeless individuals nightly, according to a recent statement in response to the governor’s veto. In 2023, Catholic Charities sheltered 410 unduplicated individuals in its emergency shelter, according to that same statement. Of those, 81% originated from the eight-parish Acadiana region, 10% originated from a different parish in Louisiana, and 9% originated from out of state.