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One Rouge Community Check -In - Week 138

Join us at 8:30 am for Week #138 via Zoom. Let’s talk housing! Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome recently gave the State of the City address where she mentioned blight a couple of times. First, she said that the city is addressing blight as a countermeasure to gun violence. Additionally, the city is dedicating $4.5M to blight, which could be a substantial step toward addressing the affordable housing shortage. But as much as I love tiny houses, is that the only solution? Is blight the one thing that is keeping EBR from having affordable housing? Is there anything else we should be considering? Our speakers:

  • Verna Bradley-Jackson, Executive Director One Touch Ministries

  • Alfredo Cruz, Founder of Let’s Fix It!

  • Addie Duval, Vice President of Greater Baton Rouge Region START Corporation

  • Carrie Patterson, Continuum of Care Manager, Louisiana Balance of State Continuum of Care | Louisiana Housing Corporation

  • Marlee Pittman, Community Revitalization Director, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s Office City of Baton Rouge

Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!



Carrie Patterson: I am the COC manager for the Louisiana Balance of State Continuum of Care, which is a whole lot of syllables to say that I'm the COC manager for the Homeless Coalition that covers the Baton Rouge region, but also 22 parishes of the state of Louisiana. And so I know that everybody has likely heard the term continuum of care before, and maybe what you're thinking of is a full suite of wraparound services designed to help ensure stability for folks who have needs. But when we talk about housing specifically in the homelessness area, the federal government through HUD Housing and Urban Development Has decided to name one of its largest funding streams in terms of providing for housing and supportive services for people experiencing homelessness, the Continuum of Care program. I'm gonna hopefully provide you guys with an understanding of this framework in terms of how these federal funds come down into local communities for providers and local stakeholders to work towards ending homelessness in their communities. And so the continuum of care, any continuum of care because your country is divided up into con continuums of care so that every piece of geography that's within the nation is covered by one of these COCs. And so the Baton Rouge region used to have its own continuum of care that covered the seven parishes around East Baton Rouge Parish. And in 2017, 2018, Baton Rouge merged with the Louisiana Balance Estate Continuum of Care. And so that's how we got to our current structure in terms of the COC that covers this area. So one of the things your COC does is hold an annual competition for the c program funding that comes into your communities. And so the annual competitions run by your COC. It's the one time a year where providers can apply for new funding for COC funded projects for rapid re housing, permanent supportive housing and a handful of other project types. But the Louisiana Balance Estate Continuum of Care brings in $23 million annually to the state of Louisiana, specifically and exclusively to provide services for people experiencing homelessness. Also including funding to help support the system that allows for flow for folks who are unsheltered or sheltered, otherwise experiencing homelessness to access resources to help them resolve their housing crisis, up to and including rental assistance and supportive services designed to get folks leased up into unit. And so that's our structure and I referenced the system. We've been working on publicizing our system for allowing folks experiencing homelessness to have a streamlined access to the federally funded services that are available to them locally. So a coordinated entry system is a relatively new structure. It really started being the way that COCs provide services to folks experiencing homelessness around 2016. But it took a lot of our communities up until around 18 or 19 for us to really get a good hang on how to do coordinated entry. And if you are interested in learning more about our coordinated entry system and how to connect folks with experiencing homelessness to the coordinated entry system, I believe that Pepper's got some links in the chat. The thing to remember. Coordinated entry is the only way for people experiencing homelessness to access the $23 million worth of federal funding to help them with rental assistance housing and other things. Number two, we have an outreach portal in which any member of the public is able to provide information about folks that they see, observe, interact with, experiencing unsheltered homelessness. It's the best way to get folks in contact with our Baton Rouge Street Outreach Network. If you put a submission through the outreach portal that information is not going to law enforcement. That information is going directly to me and my team, and then we filter that information out to the street outreach team.

Addie Duval: So I'll speak a little bit about the agency that I work for, but I really wanna spend most of my minutes on just homelessness and housing and the people that we're actually serving. So my name is Addie Duval. I'm a licensed clinical social worker and I work for Start Corporation. I also serve under the structure that Carrie was speaking of, the Louisiana Balance of State Continuum of Care, the Baton Rouge Regional Board representative. So that means that I am really tasked with overseeing all of the things that are happening in our Baton Rouge. So a little bit about Star Corporation. We were founded in 1984. We really do a lot of work centered around homelessness and housing. And particularly with those people who have disabilities in all of our sites across the state. And our model is really to combine deeply affordable housing. With supportive services for the people in the housing. I'm a data person and so in 2021 we provided over 14,000 behavioral healthcare services and 94% of the individuals in our programs maintained permanent housing. So really excited about the work that we do. We're also the largest provider at the One Stop Homeless, drop-in center which will give you a little info about that later. And we engage in homeless street outreach and coordinated entry services every, Monday through Friday. We're always out in the city trying to engage with those folks, experiencing homeless. So little bit about what we're doing now, which is super important. This month is called the point in time count. Our pit count as we refer to it, it's one evening, it's every year usually in January where we gather a group of volunteers to go out and count the number of people experiencing homelessness. Now this counting is occurring throughout the year, but this is a HUD mandated activity that we engage in. These numbers are all reported back to the federal government and it really just helps us to understand the dimensions of people experiencing homelessness and how we can better serve them. And it will also help with funding that comes into the state. So it's a super important night that we do and we counting activities also go on for the rest of that week. Little bit about housing, we really review it as a social determinant of health and that it is a form of healthcare. And so if you don't have a roof over your head, if you don't have a safe and stable place to stay, it's really tough to achieve other milestones in your life. Oftentimes we hear about people who just need to get a job, they just need to get into treatment. But we really focus on a housing first model, which if you're interested, I would definitely research. Again, we really focus on the person and their individualized needs and very low barrier solutions to engaging them and getting them into some housing, which may be through some form of subsidized housing, or it may just be connecting them with natural supports are options that they have not been able to yet explore. These people experiencing homelessness are not criminals. They are not crazy. They are not weirdos. They are our neighbors who do not have a roof over their head. We want to treat them in just the same way that we would look at our neighbor who might be experiencing some kind of struggle. I think if we can change the way that we view in our community views them, it will really help us to move the needle in engaging them in the proper way to get them housed. So what that looks like is if you see someone, and this is we have lots of groups who engage in feeding efforts. We have lots of community service that's going on. However, that's only one part of the solution. What we'd like to see is all of the groups who are engaging with this population really connect us to the coordinated entry in the balance of state.

Marlee Pittman: I'll zoom this out a little bit to talk about housing because I think it's important to understand that it affects, those are most vulnerable in, in the most critical ways as Addie and Carrie have shared. But housing affects all of us, which makes it both incredibly important to solve, but something very challenging to solve because we all have incredibly personal opinions about what our housing should look like, feel like; which housing we should have access to, maybe in, in a way that prevents other people from having access to housing, even without us knowing it. So I think it's important to look at how the housing challenges we're all facing and looking at the data for the entire city of Baton Rouge. And then we can zoom in and think about what are the solutions I can not only maybe help with some of the challenges many of us might be facing, but also really start to invest in those who are most vulnerable to help our entire ecosystem of housing work better. East Baton Rouge Parish we did a lot of interesting data work. Alfredo, who's gonna speak later, was a huge part of that, as are many of the partners in the housing community in Baton Rouge. But 52% of residents in East Baton Rouge Parish are housing cross burden. And of note that is in both North and South Baton Rouge. We have over six thousand blighted, abandoned, dilapidated housing. 46% of the homes in our parish were built before 1970. And why that matters is they're not just old people. They were built before flood maps, before lead poisoning regulations. They're likely to have mold in them. So it's almost half the residents in East Baton Rouge. And lastly, we have the 19 highest eviction rate. And leaning into Addie's comments around that, these are our neighbors who've experienced a crisis. A lot of the individuals in our city who are homeless, they are chronically homeless individuals who are struggling, but there are many who are unhoused just because of our eviction rate. And just because they might be one financial emergency, we know we have a very big palace population in the city housing is a problem for all of us. That means in some ways it can be both harder and easier to solve. I know in the mayor's office and for those I read Casey's email in advance of this meeting about mayor's state of the city, and she talked about many challenges and her vision for how to move forward. And for those who don't know, I work in Mayor-president Broom's office, as well as the Office of Community Development at the City of Baton Rouge. One of the critical things for her is how do we address these housing and neighborhood challenges and put together a plan. Many of the people on this call have had the opportunity to meet with me to contribute to that path forward and that vision. And as a part of that, I also hope to be furiously writing notes and hear y'all's questions to understand more about what the priorities are and what the ideas for solutions are and our community, because we all know people who are closest to the problem are closest to the solution. So far in our engagement of residents, stakeholders, partners we've identified three major pillars for gold. We need more affordable housing in our city built. We need to improve the health outcomes and the healthy conditions of our existing housing infrastructure. And we need to increase housing stability for all including those who are experiencing some of the most challenging situations from being unhoused. Underneath that, and as a part of this process, I have been given hundreds of incredible ideas, and then I have worked with different stakeholders to try and refine those. I've worked with national organizations who are doing some really cutting edge research around this to bring some of the thought leadership. And to help us to go through all of the incredible ideas and pull together and synthesize some key ones if you wanna learn more. Some of that work to pull that together. What's done in mayor's state of the city booklet, which is on the website if you're curious. But I am happy to dig into the details of what some of those ideas were. And they range from ways that the city can better support local developers and get funding that's into their hands so they can do incredible work to better and more consistently supporting our COC partners and really engaging in those solutions and creating mental health and housing pathways. Supporting landlords and getting them to be the partners and our housing solutions that we need because they are a part of that. Investing in our aging housing stock, lead, remediation, rehab in a much bigger way than we probably are now. So there are a lot of incredible ideas that many of the people on this call have brought to the table. So that we can organize and start to prioritize and then put dollars to that. Later this year we will be putting out, out the Office of Community Development under Mayor's leadership. We'll be putting out a notice of funding opportunity and then trying to find projects that directly align with the vision that mayor has and that, and the solutions that you've shared with us.

Alfredo Cruz: I'm a transplant originally from Nicaragua by way of Miami and Tallahassee, Florida. And I spent most of my career in philanthropy working at regional and national foundations, and also worked at the Florida legislature while I was in grad school at Florida State studying urban planning and public policy. And in 2020 I shifted gears. For my professional life in philanthropy to focus more acutely on issues that matter mostly to me. And housing is one of them, and I found it. Let's fix it to work with others in designing or redesigning programs that serve people and to do for them with them. So my commitment is to use this human centered approach in addressing the needs in communities and to encourage organizations and institutions to both understand and recognize the value centering community in their programs and services. So in, in 2022, in partnership with the Mayor's office and Together Baton Rouge we launched this Healthy Housing Forum. Out of curiosity, we asked ourselves what would happen if we engage landlords in this discussion about the lack of affordable housing, and also ask them, why don't you fix your properties? Because we knew that so many people struggling that are most cost burdens, lowest income families in our community live in very sub-standard housing conditions. It was one of the big findings in this market segmentation study. Very specific zip code areas where housing conditions were the worst and also correlated to life expectancy being, as big of a gap is 20 years in some zip code areas in North Baton Rouge versus South Baton Rouge areas that were predominantly white and more affluent. So we set out to engage landlords in February 2022 and launched his Healthy Housing Forum to begin this process of understanding from them what were some of the barriers that we're encountering to providing healthier, affordable housing. And also to begin to co-design with them some of the solutions to to do just that. And we posted 10 forums every month. Last week of the month, either a Wednesday or Thursday, we provided lunch, engaged 256 people. 86 of them were landlords and property managers, mostly mom and pop landlords, very small. Group of properties, property ownership, but very engaged in this idea of improving housing conditions for struggling families, and also very interested in increasing their portfolio of rental properties. And together with them created three pilot projects and working groups to design them. One of those projects is Tenants and Landlords Assistance Program to support and educate landlords and tenants with the aim to stabilize housing for low income family that need affordable housing, and also to prevent evictions by creating other options outside of eviction court. The second pilot is a property inspection project. And some of you might know that in one of its last meetings last year, the council passed an ordinance. To use this international building code as the standard for for housing in East Bat Rouge Parish. So we're launching our 2023 Healthy Housing Forum next week on the 18th with council member Hurst who sponsored that ordinance and city staff to explain this this new standard and the implications it has for landlords. But let me just say that the third project is a bridge loan fund to health landlords fix property, improve their health conditions, and also to have access to capital to acquire more properties and make them accessible to families in the affordable homes. So we're excited that in 2023 we are launching the Healthy Housing Forum to begin to implement these three pilot projects. But what we're doing differently also is that every other forum, every other month, it'll be dedicated to tenants because landlords have asked for us to create a program that helps to educate tenants, how to be better tenants, more responsible tenants. And we do believe that doing so will help mitigate the increase of evictions that occur because tenant landlords. So that's what we're doing in 2023. And thanks so much for letting share.

Verna Bradley-Jackson: I will be talking about reentry housing. I am very passionate about it because when somebody exit incarceration, prison, jail, whichever form you want to call it, but incarceration not having the ability to have housing is one of the main factors that would help them not to be successful on coming out of that situation. So reentry housing is very important. It's the foundation of the basic necessity that someone has. Just imagine if we didn't have housing, how would we be ?What shape would we be in? So we look at reentry housing in many different forms. There is transitional housing. That means temporarily a spot for them to live once they come out of incarceration. We have substance abuse housing that also is temporary, but it's structured where they can get the wraparound services that is needed to be successful. So they wouldn't have to go in, in and out of prison. But with the wraparound service, if I stay there just a little bit and it's connected to the reentry housing component, is this, without those service, some of them don't have the know-how or been brought up in that environment to know even how to maintain. And so sometime we can give them the housing, but the other pieces are not there. And if the other pieces are not there, then now the housing piece has fallen, they're falling to pieces, and we start to cycle all over again. So it's best that we all collaborate together so we can provide the necessary tools needed for them to be successful. And I truly still believe that reentry housing is one of those steps that is desperately needed, affordable housing, even when they come out and know how to maintain a house, but come out with, there is no funds family. Dynamics of where there's no monies to support that housing and what does affordable housing really looks like. And I think that's different buckets different spots or different phases for affordable housing because some, what's affordable to you may not be affordable to me may not be affordable to others. So I think we need to look at that a little different. And that's just my take on that part. This is leading up to why the reentry housing team has taken on the job challenge to do the reentry housing round table. Because we would like to peer with the community has to say, we want input from the mayor's office. We want input from other organizations, from the state to know exactly how we can better work together to collaborate, to make a better impact on others' life. So addressing reenter housing. The who's doing this work, the how are we gonna do this work? The what do we need to do this work to make an impact? And that's the collaboration development and in and implementation of the best practice. So we're gonna have workshops such as where you'll get a chance to talk about awareness. How do we make the awareness on reentry housing? So it says solutions to stretching and expand the reentry housing in the community. And that also leads to identifying the gaps, the barriers to re-entry housing. So those are the different breakout sessions that we're gonna have the re-entry housing round table on January the 18th, and we are inviting everyone to come out. But at the last half, at the lunch, we're gonna get some best practices solutions from the very institution. And the very institution is going to give us a better understanding on what we can do to connect and to make this happen. Also, one judge ministry is doing a 90 day house challenge, and we are gonna take a shack, make it into a house, but at the end, we're gonna have a home. So we are going to need your help in order to do this. The 90 day challenge is something, the house is a hot mess, but it'll show us the process and we're gonna use reentry people, but we also need other from the community. And that'll be a way to network and intertwine together to make this happen.

Pepper Roussel: I want to give a little bit of space to Ebony Starks who has an announcement that I wanna get to before I forget, becasue I promise once we start diving into this, we're gonna forget a lot of things going on. Ebony, you had an announcement that you wanted to make before the community..

Ebony Starks: I just really quickly wanted to announce that the Wilson Foundation is rolling out our newest funding opportunity under our place-based focus. So really fitting as we talk about all of these needs in our physical communities, right? Our physical needs. It is focused on six zip codes in North Baton Rouge. I will drop the information into the chat and really focuses on non-profits providing programs, our projects under four focus areas, which are housing, education, community wellness, and economic vitality. So really in line with the discussion here and all of the great work that's going on, we are kicking off the Empower Funding Opportunity with a virtual applicant workshop. It's happening January 25th from 2 to 3:30 in the afternoon. So anybody who is interested, I'm going to drop the link in the chat so you can review our applicant resource page for more information. And I encourage you to attend and see if the work that you're doing is a good fit with this funding opportunity.

Pepper Roussel: So there were a couple of things that popped into the chat. Can you have get services if you don't have housing, if you don't have an address, if you don't have a pen to fill out an application in order to get housing?

Pat Leduff: I just want to say that , for the last year, I've been concentrating on the actual camps that are set up with the tents and the tarp. And we are actually been going out there, asking, how can we help you? What can we do? Would you like a job? If you get a job, then you have need to have transportation? You need to have someone to somewhere to be so that you can bathe? It's really deep because at that particular time, they're only looking for money. A lot of them are looking for money to help them in that situation right then. Cause there's no house to go to, right? There's no home to go to. They're going, so they're going back, to the camp or wherever they're actually living, under the bridge or wherever. And some of this that's been, being said, the services are good, but the core of all of this is housing. And if you get housing, you gotta have a job to pay it. So then where do you get your first month rent? Where do you get your deposit? All of that's required. And then we continue to let the rents go up. And the pay is not going up. And all of that has to be addressed. We're just going around in circles if you ask me because the rents are so high. The jobs that are paying so little that it's taking them three checks, people who are trying to make it, that are not hopeless to satisfy.

Carrie Patterson: First off, thank you so much. I am always heartened in terms of how our community members rally to help our most vulnerable neighbors. If you haven't yet gotten in touch with the Baton Rouge Street Outreach Network start Corporation, volunteers of America, et cetera, or provided information through that street outreach portal link that we put in the chat I really highly encourage you to do you are absolutely right. Homelessness, housing, employment, education, safety, they're all interconnected and it is exceedingly hard for folks experiencing unsheltered homelessness to access a lot of mainstream services. However, I'm happy to say that we do have resources in the Baton Rouge area that are able to help. The trained street outreach teams are very good at connecting folks who do not have same mailing addresses with behavioral health resources, access to say assistance with getting government issued IDs. Maybe they need a birth certificate. Getting all those tips of documentation that a landlord's really gonna want someone to have prior to engaging with them with a lease. And so ending homelessness in Baton Rouge is a multi-pronged effort. When we talk about ending homelessness, we are working to make things homelessness rare. It's not happening all the time. Brief. When it does happen, we're able to help resolve that housing crisis quickly. And then non-recurring, meaning that if a family experiences homelessness we're working to make that a blip in their life as opposed to something that is indicative of the cycle that you just very eloquently outlined there. I really love that we're having a multi-pronged conversation about what are barriers to accessing deeply affordable housing, as well as what are the resources that are available now to help our neighbors that are experiencing housing crises stabilize.

Addie Duval: I'm glad that you asked that question. And I think I can answer and speak towards the business community because a lot of it is the same answer. So again, there's lots of efforts that are going on around the city that have not yet connected to our COC or to the coordinated entry system or even to the one stop. So whereas if you are going out and providing a certain level of resources if they aren't connected to these housing lists and trained housing experts, then they're missing a piece of it. So again, whether it's you explore some of our websites, I'm happy to chat at any point at any time with any of you, just about how you can take that information to them, the people that you're visiting within in the encampments to then. Get their information, share that through the homeless outreach portal. Then our trained straight outreach specialists will go out and they'll connect on the housing navigation and all of those services that Carrie mentioned. And same thing for the business owners. We know so many of you and them that are out there that really do very unnoticed good things. They give food, they will pay for various things and help them, however. Again, we're not connecting to the more long-term supports. And so as business, owners, we would be happy to have our straight outreach teams come out there to speak with the people if they are hanging out in and around the building. You can also, again, put them in the homeless outreach portal and our teams will go directly to them, not, it doesn't necessarily mean they're gonna get help immediately in terms of a key to an apartment, but the first step is just engaging and getting their name into our shared database and getting on those priority lists and getting connected to all of those wraparound service.

Pepper Roussel: I am flipping through the chat and seeing that Houston's decommissioned 57 encampments and Pam Wall. I am with you. I'm all about a trip to Houston, especially in the springtime. Yeah, the, but that also makes me think so that doesn't happen in a vacuum. And back to the the inquiry and the discussion around collaboration, I see a lot of information, contact info that's popping into the chats. I am so excited about that. But the, there is also a question about Those folks who fall through the cracks, right? So how can we collaborate in a way that is effective enough to where if one of our organizations cannot help that an, that we can do a handoff? Is there something that's already in place or is there something that we can establish in order to make that possible?

Addie Duval: I'll just put one quick plug here, but I'd love for other folks to answer the, and I think it was Manny who answered, so part of the COC is really, the agency and coalition within this area that really has a large, is tasked with preventing and ending homelessness. We, of course, can't do that in a vacuum and need everyone. So I will speak to your question about that. The city and other entities do receive federal and state dollars, that are purposed for homelessness. But the best way Pepper to answer for me is that the more folks like you that have joined and attended some of our Baton Rouge quarterly meetings and then participated in other activities, the pit count, have become familiar with the one stop. It helps us to learn more about what's out there, who's at the table, and how you can fill in those gaps. So we would love for the C O C within the Baton Rouge region to be that go-to organization to say, how can I help? What do you need? And then we can absolutely plug in some of those gaps and address the people that are falling through the cracks.

Verna Bradley-Jackson: It's a little different with somebody coming out of incarceration and have to report to probation and parole. If they don't have an address, they go back to prison. So it causes us, and it affects their success. So housing on that level is also a great

Marlee Pittman: I like to maybe speak to some of that collaboration piece. During the process of bringing different organizations together that I might have been familiar with or others the mayor's office might've been familiar with. I was really surprised by the lack of kind of cross understanding of the work and resources and the housing space of different organizations for providing and how they were all touching the housing issue. And so I think that's definitely something, I think that's the exact right question. How are we how are we creating networks of relationships with each other so that we can do those soft handoffs as people move through the range of services that they need to get back on their feet. And then to, I think there was another question that fact, I just wanted to say, yeah. This, so the city does receive some federal funds to support at homelessness on fiscal year 2022. That was 273,000, not hundred $51. That may sound like a lot, but it is really nothing in comparison to the level of challenges that we are experiencing and that our homeless residents are experiencing. So definitely a lot of collaboration's gonna be needed to make those dollars stretch with bigots income.

Carrie Patterson: Thank you, Marley. One of the things that I like to say is that homelessness requires a community-wide effort. Pam, you brought up the depopulation of encampments in the Houston ar area. That depopulation effort required two years of planning required local municipal governments to really mobilize both their resources monetarily, but also leverage those relationship resources to bring private sector into that collaboration in order to have pay funding for a lot of those things that, that will make things happen. But your federal funds are barred from being used to pay for so a lot of those relocation early say landlord incentives, things of that nature. And so there really is fantastic potential, especially for the Baton Rouge area, for us to be able to end homelessness here. The way that. the way that Baton Rouge continues to organically develop resources like this one we are in right now. One Rouge didn't exist three years ago. But we have a ton of people who are invested in helping this community grow, be healthy, be a safe place for everyone who lives within it. And harnessing all that interest, all those resources there is definitely enough space at this table for everyone to have a seat because we won't be reaching those goals without everyone playing a role. Everyone being involved.

Pepper Roussel: As always, many has really intelligent questions. And I'm boiling it down to, is there a cheat sheet? Manny, did you wanna expand on or unpack that question?

Manny Patole: I think we all talk about what we are working on, what we're doing and how we're, how we need help. But I think sometimes it's hard to understand for even the most knowledge, the people, which agencies and departments are responsible for what, who we can hold accountable. We have one group of people that are doing the work, but we also need another group of people to hold others accountable for what they should be doing. Not because these other group of people are, filling in the gaps for their lack of work. So that's part of it, but it's. To help everyone understand where they can go and get stuff. I know Addie brought up a lot of things and so to Carrie and Marley and Verna, but the understanding of what is that list is something that we can also distribute. I know it's sometimes it's a moving target, but there are some general roles of responsibilities from the federal level, the state level, the local level, and then those different organizations and how they dovetail with other things

Carrie Patterson: I think it's a great question, Manny, and I've been trying to hang back and let some of our other speakers take ones, but I think this one is on me. And so very short answer, no, we do not have a blueprint. There is not a cheat sheet. There is no nothing so standardized. And boy, howdy. I wish that we did have one, but there are some things that you can keep in mind, right? And , there are responsibilities that your city, parish, government has. There are responsibilities that your state has. And then the federal government tends to punt all of those responsibilities back down to a local level. So there are a few things in terms of holding people accountable and pushing for policies because we know that the purse strings are held by legislative bodies, right? I'm throwing this out there. Louisiana as a state does not have a budget line item to focus on homelessness or housing. If you're looking at states and communities that have made some significant progress on having a functioning homelessness services system have moved forward with really healthfully reducing their population of people experiencing homelessness, those states have invested unrestricted funds into solving that issue. We. The new legislative session coming up in March. Just throwing that out there for everyone. In terms of things that you might be interested in having conversations about with your elected representatives per strings also are held at a legislative level at your city parish. We have a metro council that served as the legislative body of the city, parish government. They are very accessible to community members. I was able to engage with a group of community partners, many who were on this call. Thank you, Ms. Berna, Reverend Anderson, Addie Alfredo. In talking with Metro Council members when they were evaluating whether or not they would pass the anti camping ordinance that they ultimately did pass over the summer, that provides additional mechanisms for criminalizing people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. While that education didn't Successfully changed the minds of some Metro Council members in terms of shifting what they were looking for in terms of a solution. Having conversations with your local elected officials really makes a difference. And so that's a non-answer for specifically what you were looking for, Manny. But I hope that is helpful in terms of direction.

Pepper Roussel: So if we have money coming from the feds and we have money in the state and there is money somewhere locally, how do we access it? Or do we have money that we can access? What is our process?

Alfredo Cruz: Oh, pepper, don't get me started on that one.

Pepper Roussel: Should I withdraw that from the table? Because, I kind of wanna hear the answer.

Alfredo Cruz: I think Marley's gonna respond to this, but I wanted to say something. The problem with forming partnerships and coordinating referrals and that kind of thing, it's cuz our main problem is the lack of supply. We have a lot of demand for housing. We don't have enough supply and we're not gonna solve this if we keep doing the same thing over and over again, including the same RFPs. For that money. We have to get more creative and come up with more creative solutions. Because if we keep doing the same thing, this ain't gonna go away and the money is not the problem. I keep saying that we may not have a whole lot, but the problem is the systems in which that money is being managed.

Marlee Pittman: There are system that we have some agency over, right? In city and particularly under Mayor Broom's administration. And we have been given a mandate from Mayor Broom to start to unpeel the layers of that and try and build something new locally that can work about 80% of the systems that some of the money that we receive has to do with a federal agency. That is beyond we can certainly write memos, requesting waivers. We can certainly send formal email communication accepting, requesting changes or others, not myself, but others could work with Congress because Congress sets many of the rules and regulations of those federal agencies and the funding amount that federal agency, the the Department of Housing and Urban Development works under. There is a lot of work to be done and for those who have worked. With some of these federal dollars through the city of Banner Reserve, a lot of work to be done and making this more streamlined, efficient predictable, and one day incredibly creative of solving our problems. We're not there yet but I can tell you that I'm hoping that 2023 will look and feel a little better on that. Another part of this is that the city of Baton Rouge does not manage all of the federal dollars that can come to this community for the purposes of affordable housing development. And we are really building a much stronger relationship with lhc, the Louisiana Housing Corporation that Carrie works for so that we can start to pay their affordable housing dollars of our affordable housing dollars and to do some really big projects that can make a big difference. So that is a big piece of it, and that is underway as well. And I know that Louisiana Housing Corporation is also doing some of that. Blowing up a cobwebs out of their system so that they can join us in serving our affordable housing developers in a better way. So there's a lot there, Alfredo, as and as I know. So I think system changes. Hello? And you can hear the exhaustion in my voice around that. But I think a part of that is really continuing to come to these tables to hear about what those priorities are so that you can bring that vision back and then keep the train moving. I don't know if, Carrie, if you have other thoughts on the funding piece from Lats perspective. So yes, I do work for Louisiana Housing Corporation. I work very specifically for the Louisiana Balances Estate Continuum of Care. And so Louisiana Housing Corporation is your state housing finance agency covers everything from low income tax credits in terms of ensuring that new developments have somewhat of provisions made for folks who are lower income. Helps folks out with utility arrears has a really significant portfolio of developing developing housing all across the state. So happy to connect folks with the powers that be that might be able to answer your questions on that front. Should you reach out. But Marley's right there is a lot more coordination that can be done. And increased engagement from the community in terms of inquiries. All these wonderful things that are in the chat can really help towards moving and motivating some of those larger entities towards focusing their attention. But also, we do have a COC program funding competition that happens annually. We have a very small amount of things that we can fund, but if you're interested in running a rapid rehousing or permanent supportive housing project, please contact me now and not in June so I can talk to you freely about what that competition looks like. I see the question. There's a specific question from about home and CBD I can give them very quick, but this is really like more of a two hour home investment partnership. Fun fact Capital H O M E is the dollars that can be used only on the construction of affordable housing or specific affordable housing development activities. This is the money that nobody actually really wants that much of because there's a lot of strings attached, a lot. It is very difficult. You've got Davis Bacon labor compliance. You have to have a 25% match. You have to, catalog every single receipt. You have income requirements for that. That new either apartment unit, multi-family unit or a single family home that you're selling that you have to keep track of for 15, 35 years. Sometimes it just depends. And we work closely with a lot of our nonprofit developers local developers in our community. Just different individual at campus. So anyway we're gonna be doing a new nofa, so that might look a little bit different, but we're excited about the new people that we'll be bringing into the program. Community development block grants, CDVG we have a little bit more of that funding as well CDVG than we do of our home dollars. But that can be used for a wide range of community development activities, including public services purchasing land pre-development of land clearance of light improvement condemnation. That's how we avoid our condemnations work. Some public facilities work, a wide range of activities can be paid for with cdbg, but that also means that a wide range of important work is all relying on cdbg. And so it's hard because there are so many organizations who are doing such great work who are always looking for additional CDVG dollars for their projects, programs, services, et cetera. Those are the two main housing, the two mainstream of funding that we can use for affordable housing and community development activities. We also have E S G, our emergency, it used to be emergency shelter grant, house emergency solutions, but that can be used for homeless shelter services. So it's still functionally in emergency shelter grant. That is the 200 and $70,000 that I mentioned. And then we have our housing opportunities for persons with aids, and that is mostly a voucher program, but also different health and mental health and visible health assistance. But that is going through modernization and so that is shrinking drastically every year. And so that's another challenge that we're facing, interact with community development of how to continue to serve those people and those residents and neighbors, while a half a million dollar cup was last year.

Ebony Starks: Can I add, is this a free-speech time? Okay. Thank you Marley for kinda reviewing that and talking about how each of those funding pools can be leveraged. I know that capital is shrinking and I know that home can be difficult to use because of the federal requirements and overlay. However, home is being used very effectively across the country, in cities with as much capacity, more capacity, or less capacity than Baton Rouge. And I think that the funding availability and the allocation is it's wonderful to have clarity, but how do we have transparency and technical assistance as we work to connect our organizations with this funding? And as our city parish works to spend this funding in a way that is efficient and impactful. And I think that. Those challenges mixed with our statewide challenges around housing tax credit guidelines that are, that don't make sense. And, CDC designation that runs through our different state facilities. All of these things make it really hard to develop affordable housing here. And so I think if we can, while funding is limited and it needs to be leveraged both nationally and locally, I think transparency around the processes, the uses and assistance so that we can connect our organizations to this funding is critical. If we're gonna change any of the issues that we're talking about today.

Pepper Roussel: I have so many questions that remain, but in the interest of time and as, and out of respect for those of you with lives to lead, I won't be asking them. I do see one that's left in the chat and then I'll turn it over to Casey. Before we get to community announcements, Casey, I see if you've got anything that you wanna bring up, Alfredo?

Alfredo Cruz: Sorry I just wanted to share one last thought here. But I did have a chance to hear the Mayor City address and heard once again a lot about safety. and I want everybody to start thinking about our public safety. To not just be about the persecution of criminals, but also the safety of people in their homes when their homes aren't safe. That is also public safety. And I wish we would have a public safety agenda that includes housing conditions, otherwise it seems like a really short slighted strategy to address public safety, because not everybody's safe in their homes. And I wanted to also say on the issue of accountability, this notion that would red stick rising if 4.5 million, the largest amount for housing mentioned in those remarks was used to tear down dilapidated housing. It doesn't seem like we're rustic rising when it comes to housing. Not like for us to get there. It was as it was aspirational, inspirational, but not for housing. So that's what I wanted say.

Pepper Roussel: I listened to the mayor's state of the city address, and she did mention those two things around blight and housing. And I've seen in the chat early on that which was a response to a comment that we've got older housing, so housing that it was built before 1970. And the comment was to paraphrase, that's not a barrier. If we can fix it. It's possible. It can be better. And so then the question becomes, what are then these challenges if we're, if we can't just throw money at it, right? So if money's not the thing, if we have a system that is integrated across these sectors, nothing exists in a vacuum. What, how do we get to a place? What do we need to put in place in order to effectively start scaffolding to safe housing safe existences within your housing?

Ebony Starks: I would push back a little bit on the idea that older housing isn't a challenge. And I'm going to say that because say that you are Habitat for Humanity using federal funds to rehabilitate a home in North Baton Rouge built before 19. Is it 78? 72, where the lead , the lead regulations came out. Say that they simply need a door replaced or some windows replaced, or you wanna do weatherization, you cannot disturb. If there is lead present and you disturb that through dust, through removing trim, you then become responsible for lead remediation throughout the entire property. An update or a repair that may have been $2,500 even less than that now. It's going through not only an environmental review process. That could take up to a year. It is now gonna cost the entire sum of lead remediation for that home. So this is not an excuse to not address these challenges. This means we have to have different pools of funding to help that have more flexibility. Where can we use LHC dollars for weather innovation? Layer them with federal dollars for rehab. And the Wilson Foundation has recently funded a housing collaborative with Habitat for Humanity Uric and Rebuilding Together to address this, to provide a private pool of funding that will allow for the repairs that federal regulations will not. But we can't do that alone. We don't have enough ones to do that alone. But you have to really be creative. So I will push back on the idea that age is not a barrier to repair of these homes that are most in needed is especially when using federal funding, if you're going to do things correctly. We don't necessarily want to. fix a short term problem and not address a much longer term health hazard. But that's expensive. Many of these homes also did not qualify for FEMA funds after the flood. There is mold, there is foundation deterioration that has never been addressed. Do you put a new roof on a home that is crumbling? So I think that there are so many layers when it comes to rehabbing and creating safe, healthy homes in these areas with aged housing that also have so much environmental damage that I just wanna push back on that a little bit because I wanna create really realistic expectations when it comes to our wonderful organizations working in these spaces.

Marlee Pittman: And one additional note is that federal funding, you can only spend if the home is worth $15,000, I can only spend half of that amount on that home repairing it. And we know that these homes are gonna need tens of thousands of dollars to get to a place where we would wanna put our grandmothers or our children. So that is another reason that the aging or our huge problem and a very big problem for our nonprofit partners.

Pepper Roussel: So that makes me wonder a couple of things. If there are people who are living in these houses currently to Reverend Anderson's point, these are environmental racism issues, is there. Some sort of cross collaboration. Is there funding that can come from other areas or are there other resources that are available to step in and help in order to remove folks from places where they're living active with active mold that maybe they don't have the funds to fix it themselves? Maybe it doesn't even belong to them. Maybe it is indeed a landlord or an owner who is responsible for the upkeep.

Manny Patole: I think with, when we're looking at this, I think there's always this vision that this landlord is some person that owns, dozens of properties and living on, the on high street or something like that. When you look at who owns some of these properties, a large percentage of them are usually folks that only own one to four additional, either accessory dwelling units or additional properties. They're not huge scale developers. I think that's part of the other issue that, Ebony was getting at too, is that there's a lot of these different layered issues going on here, but when we're talking about the environmental, racial, climate justice issues around with all this, to the point that Patricia has made and Reverend Anderson has made for the last, 130 weeks, right? We start looking at Cincinnati, you start looking at where was the other place, Greenville. A lot of these cities that have been touted now all started off at the same point. And they have made those strides. I think the point that I was trying to make with looking at some of these houses, yes, age shouldn't be a barrier if there were other things in place to actually help move this, the needle forward, right? But when we're looking at all this other stuff, is that other people have made those strides and how are we starting to hold accountable, people accountable for why other things haven't been progressing as fast as they could be in Baton Rouge?

Pepper Roussel: I heard a lot of voices when Manny started talking. Who else is jumping in this, to answer those questions?

Pam Wall: I'll just say this about money. I think so many of us are passionate about this issue of affordable housing and again, I've been dealing with the housing authority for 20 years in different capacities, and there are huge waiting lists. The people like us are just, we got our whole bodies pushing on this, but the people with the big bucks up and down the river, where are they? Where and I'm sure the Chamber of Commerce recognizes the issue of housing and it's not an isolated issue. And I know Addie knows that I know this. It's it's very complicated because it has to do with income, it has to do with education, it has to do with which part of the city now it's not gonna flood. And but I don't see the Exxons and the shells and the people who many times aren't paying much property tax. And there's not enough money. And there's not a connection that I see that even people who aren't real smart are to understand about the relationship between h Workforce housing and economy. I, and again, I've been a member of the Baton Rouge Jury Foundation for 25 years, and I remember when the, I worked for the governor when Mark Drek had the idea to build all those buildings downtown. Instead of renting a lot of of offices for state workers that started the transformation of downtown BRAF stepped up. They put their resources in it, but all the people who were living downtown because they could not afford. To leave cause they didn't have the money when there was white fly and downtown was just absolutely dead. Those people were bought out. Downtown is developed. It's really neat. But where is even one complex? And I could be ignorant and you could all tell me where it is of affordable housing downtown. So the workforce that's needed to clean all those buildings to work in the bars and restaurants to landscape. Where is the workforce housing for downtown it? We would just need one nice affordable housing., Mixed income development. People with the resources should do that. So that's my soapbox thing today.

Pepper Roussel: Casey, did you want to wrap us up?

Casey Phillips: Not at this moment. I feel like other people can. To generalize and say that these are all great points, I don't want to do a disservice, but just amazing perspectives and insights into, and also realistic snapshots of where we're sitting. It feels like to me that there is a combination of increased political will that focus on housing that needs to occur. It feels like there is some significant policy changes that need to be made, and we all know that's gonna take time. And I wanna be really mindful when I say that word, because I know there's people on here that do that policy work and I don't want to, demotivate you, please keep at it. And and I, there just, there has to be some folks that are gonna be willing to try things that are gonna fail miserably and not worry about having that go in their face, right? There, there has to be that appetite in the private sector unrestricted funding that is going to try things that may or may not work and we gotta shoot our shot. And and I think that all the way across the board that, that it's time for our city to grow up, it emerged into the metropolitan city that we actually are.

Pepper Roussel: So I will open it up to our speakers for any final thoughts that you wanna leave with us. And I will say before you before you begin, thank you ever so much for being here, for staying longer than I had asked you to come for doing all of the things that you do on a daily final thoughts.

Verna Bradley-Jackson: For me and reentry and the housing component and the piece here is how do we bring all of this together but not bring it together just to talk about it, to do something about it, to move it, what do we have to do? How do we position ourselves to do something that's gonna improve the housing component as a group or as individuals? So that's my theory on this whole. Because we can talk all day, but until we start doing something and coming together as a whole and even knocking down some barriers that we may be scared to knock down a, according to what may happen to us, but if it helps somebody else, it's a sacrifice.

Pepper Roussel: I'm hoping some folks from this call will be jumping on to your 90 day housing Rehab, because that sounds amazing to me. Final thoughts?

Carrie Patterson: Thank you all so much for directing the significant energy, resources, mental capacity, et cetera, to focusing on how we can start to address our housing crisis within within this local area. Again thanks Mary for the question. I've gone and put the link again for the street outreach portal, which again, , the most effective ways to connect people experiencing unsheltered homelessness with the available resources that we currently have. But again, I'll reiterate Addie's invitation for additional collaboration and attendance in terms of those Baton Rouge Regional quarterly meetings at the COC. Marcella, I've almost commented to you twice in terms of us needing to have a conversation in terms of how we have equitable access to the existing resources. For folks who are recent immigrants, we need to just have coffee or a meeting. But thank you all. Please don't hesitate to reach out. I'm gonna be on these one rouge meetings whenever I am able. And so pepper don't hesitate to give me an explicit instruction if you think my presence might be helpful.

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