Gov. Landry vetoes $1M for Lafayette homeless shelter

A mat and a bag of belongings sit beneath a statue of Jesus
The St. John Street shelter is set to reopen by the end of the year. That may help reduce the number of people living unsheltered in the LaPlace neighborhood, but the number of beds it can provide will be well short of the number needed. Photo by Robin May

Stunning local social service agencies, Gov. Jeff Landry vetoed $1 million in state dollars earmarked for emergency shelter operations at Catholic Charities of Acadiana.

Catholic Charities is the largest shelter provider in the Acadiana region and runs the only shelter available to single adults. The funding loss, which will hit Catholic Charities’ budget when its fiscal year starts Monday, could force the agency to cut back shelter operations or stop them altogether, CEO Kim Boudreaux says.

“Losing that has put us in a critical position. This was funding that represents almost the entire budget” for shelter operations, Boudreaux says.

Social service providers have warned for years that the Lafayette area lacks shelter space, pointing to a decline in federal funding and a lack of sustained local support.

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Given the lack of shelter overall, losing Catholic Charities’ shelter would be “catastrophic,” says Elsa Dimitriadis, executive director of the Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness and Housing.

“I can’t adequately express the need that we have for shelter is the community,” she says.

In his veto message, the governor said the cut was necessary to shore up a tightening state budget. Landry vetoed $4.5 million for Louisiana nonprofit groups, including large cuts to housing programs in New Orleans and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, according the Louisiana Illuminator.

“Prior to next legislative session, we plan to work with the legislature to develop criteria for what type of NGO requests represent the best use of our scarce state resources,” the governor wrote.

This is a developing story.