April 23, 2009--Baton Rouge, LA—Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge is rallying support throughout Baton Rouge to assist with the mass relocation of Brandywine residents.
Last week, Catholic Charities began working closely with East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council Member Donna Collins-Lewis and other community groups and nonprofits to identify resources and sources of funding to help.
“Relocating this many people this quickly is going to take a lot more resources that any one agency has,’ said Council Member Collins-Lewis. “This is going to have to be a community-wide effort—just like what happens after a hurricane.”
David Aguillard, CCDBR Executive Director, pointed out that the agency’s goal is to relocate the residents to other housing not bail out the homeowner’s association.
“We want to make sure that the people who have paid their bills and rent on time are not held hostage by a dispute between the Homeowner Association and the utility companies,” said Aguillard.
Additionally the group is concerned that there might be other properties in the Baton Rouge area facing the same fate as Brandywine.
“We’re calling on the decision-makers in our state to change the type of laws that allowed this situation to continue,” said Aguillard. “People living in poverty should not have to live in fear that their most basic needs can be taken away through no fault of their own.
“This is not just a question of comfort, but basic human dignity and respect,” said Aguillard. “Access to clean water is not a luxury.”
Catholic Charities USA Disaster Grant:
The agency received $10,000 to assist the residents of Brandywine Apartments. As a member of the Catholic Charities USA network, the local agency was allowed to tap into the organization’s fund usually reserved for natural disaster recovery.
“Even though it’s manmade, the situation at Brandywine is certainly a disaster,” said Kim Burgo, CCUSA Vice President for Disaster Response. “These people are losing their homes just like so many did from Gustav or recently in the Fargo floods. The poor are the least able to recover from this kind of setback.”
“These funds will certainly help a lot of people make the move,” said Aguillard. “We’re meeting with the residents that call us, to assess their needs and see what resources we have to help.”
Other Funding: In addition to the grant from CCUSA, the agency can access some of its other funders, but these funds won’t last long given the need, and many are restricted for certain populations or can only pay a few expenses.
East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council Member Donna Collins-Lewis has received financial pledges from area churches.
Baton Rouge Office of Human Development has accessed some emergency funding and partnered with Catholic Charities to streamline the application process.
Volunteers needed: Capital Area United Way announced a Brandywine Day of Caring project to assist the elderly, disabled & families without the manpower to relocate. United Way will be soliciting corporate groups and others to supply volunteers, trucks and supplies.
“We love to partner with groups like Catholic Charities and to serve as a support mechanism for this worthy cause,” said Kimberly Haddox, CAUW Sr. Relationship Development Coordinator.
Affordable housing scarce: In addition to money, we’re having a tough time finding affordable housing options, particularly for seniors, people with disabilities, and families with small children,” said Aguillard.
Help needed: Financial donations, Volunteers, moving supplies & trucks, Affordable housing
Aguillard encourages other organizations or individuals to contact the agency if they are able to contribute to the effort as a volunteer, with a financial donation or with information concerning available housing. Call 225-336-8700 or visit at www.ccdiobr.org