As the freezing weather was almost upon New Iberia earlier this year, Stephen Etienne, Director of the Iberia Homeless Shelter, and his wife drove around the parish, night after night, picking up people needing shelter and bringing them to temporary shelter, mostly in motels.
Thirteen adults and seven children were provided warm shelter during the devastating freeze, including a family of six whose trailer burned during the freeze.
Etienne was able to find temporary lodging for them and is trying to find permanent housing and steady employment for the husband of the family.
Those who need shelter range from the young to the elderly, men, women and children, neighbors in need who find themselves in possibly the worst situation of their lives, according to Iberia Homeless Shelter officials.
In addition to being proactive in finding those who need shelter, Etienne works to find permanent housing and jobs for the clients when needed.
Besides housing, the Shelter’s programs include referrals and drug, alcohol and mental health services. There is also case management, following up on clients and helping to get them additional services when needed.
Since Covid 19 struck, the Shelter has not been able to house clients in the dormitory setting. Instead, the clients are housed temporarily in motel rooms until other arrangements can be made, though motel housing is more costly than housing at the shelter.
“Many of our neighbors in Iberia Parish need shelter and other services from time to time,” Etienne said. “Unfortunately, besides a few small grants, we have to rely on the generosity of the community to help us meet the needs of these vulnerable clients. Our costs are up because of the freeze and Covid 19 so our reliance on donations is critical.”
Donations may be mailed to Iberia Homeless Shelter, P.O. Box 13364, New Iberia LA 70562.
Those needing assistance should call the Shelter at (337) 369-9900.