Office of the Mayor-President

For release: IMMEDIATELY

Release Date: 07/27/2006


Mayor Melvin L. “Kip” Holden kicked off two programs today aimed at providing assistance to Baton Rouge’s homeless population and relief to those who may be vulnerable to summer heat.

In partnership with the Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless, Mayor Holden launched a program that will offer two components for reducing Baton Rouge’s homeless population: an awareness program for services available to the homeless, and Street Outreach Teams comprised of specially trained social services professionals teamed with former homeless clients.

“We will distribute Outreach Cards that list services available to the homeless so that businesses and individuals who are asked for help by a homeless person can refer them,” Mayor Holden explained. “Our message is this: It is better to refer a homeless person for service than to give cash. We can only help if we can move them to the programs that can find permanent solutions to their problems.”

Holden said the Street Outreach Teams will work to identify homeless individuals, build trust through one-on-one counseling and offer transportation to a site where they provide toiletries, case management and housing. He said screening for mental illness and substance abuse, two of the leading causes of homelessness, will be provided.

“The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Volunteers of America are taking the lead in working with us on this creative approach,” Mayor Holden said. “We will run this program for 90 days in the downtown area, evaluate its success and determine steps for providing services parish wide.”

Holden said the program is being funded by a Community Development Block Grant through the Office of Community Development and he anticipates additional funding will be secured to expand the program.