Due to COVID-19 and concerns for community spread, there has been a dramatic decrease in available shelter beds since March. Those beds will remain unavailable throughout the winter.
Throughout the pandemic, ARCH has been able to utilize local hotel and motel rooms as a temporary shelter solution. From there, ARCH case managers work individually with clients to transition them to permanent housing. ARCH is very proud of their successes in keeping clients safe from COVID-19 and on their way to long term stability, but they need the community-at-large’s help to swiftly move those who have no choice but to stay out in the cold into temporary, safe shelter.
Leigh Rachal, Executive Director of ARCH, says, “When you’re just sitting still for an hour outside, you start to realize how impactful the cold really is, especially when it is cold, rainy, and windy, like it will be tomorrow night. Everyone needs a safe place to get out of the cold.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created conditions that can easily lead individuals and families to lose their housing. Some have lost jobs entirely, while others face reduced hours. ARCH reports that even with new jobs secured, many families struggle to pull together enough money to cover the expenses of moving into a new place, with deposits for rent and utilities often running over $1000 per household. The assistance available to families in this situation is limited within the region.
During the recent freezes, ARCH has sheltered approximately 300 people, including about 50 children with their parents. “The number of people ARCH and our partner agencies have identified needing emergency shelter is much higher than we originally estimated,” Rachal says. “This means the total cost for the hotel rooms is higher than we initially estimated, as well.”
ARCH has already spent over $50,000 securing safe emergency shelter this winter. But ARCH has made it a priority to ensure that there is safe shelter available for Acadiana households during the worst of the winter weather. “If you consider that we will have multiple freezes throughout the winter, you see that we just can’t do it without the communities’ support,” Rachal says.
If the public is interested in donating, they can visit bit.ly/freezefund to make a safe donation. Those interested in giving by check, please mail to: ARCH, PO Box 3936, Lafayette, LA 70502.
If you would like more information about giving options, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.