Frustrated by the homeless camp, a business owner posted a powerful message to the mayor

BATON ROUGE – A business owner says she’s frustrated with having to clean up after a group of homeless people every day.

The frustration reached a boiling point Tuesday when Erin Shaw posted a message for the mayor on her message board asking for help cleaning up the trash left behind.

The sign says, “Mayor Broome, I thought you should get rid of the homeless and the trash. I can’t see any of that, it’s getting funny. Don’t vote for Broome!’

For three days in a row, the owner of Young Fashions Uniforms on Coursey Boulevard says she’s pulled several shopping carts full of items to the curb. It has become a part of her morning routine and she doesn’t think it should be.

“I don’t have an hour to spend on it when I come in in the morning,” Shaw said.

For the past decade, Shaw says she’s had homeless people hang out in the back of her building. As a family business, she doesn’t want the mess.

“I can’t just leave it because it’s getting worse and worse. At some point there will be a camp the length of my building,” she said.

Shaw’s message to the mayor shines bright for all drivers to see. She wants everyone—especially the mayor—to know what’s going on.

“Something has to be done. It has become beyond absurd.”

So far, Shaw says her other appeals for a solution have ended in nothing. The area where the homeless congregate is between Shaw’s building and the fence of the residential area. She says the parish won’t let her put up a fence to block off the area because it’s an easement. Shaw says residents living on the other side of the fence called the police to come help, but since the homeless aren’t on private property, they aren’t technically trespassing.

“I don’t know what else to do at this point. I’m just at a loss,” she said.

The city-parish offers several solutions to people who may have problems with homeless encampments. They suggest contacting law enforcement if there is active encampment on your private property, especially in abandoned structures or wooded areas. If the camp is not on private property, contact 311, City Hall and your council member for assistance.

The fentanyl and opioid crisis continues, contributing significantly to homelessness and mental health challenges in communities across the country. To address this challenge, the city has invested in several resources, including housing.

  • $49 million for emergency rental assistance in 2021 and 2022 for 9,766 households, including those who were homeless or at risk of homelessness
  • Allocation of $175,000 in 2022 for homeless and shelter services, including One Stop
  • Allocation of $270,000 in 2023 for shelter operations. In the past, these funds have gone to One Stop, St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities, etc.
  • $325,000 dedicated to YWCA for short-term emergency housing
  • A $5 million HOME ARP Action Plan pending HUD approval that includes 110 housing solutions for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
  • HOT team; two teams (BRPD and EBRSO) with behavioral health experts visit the camps twice a week. The teams build relationships with dozens of homeless people, helping them sign up for resources to house them. This often includes helping individuals acquire the necessary documentation and identification to apply for disability insurance or other programs to receive recurring financing for long-term housing.
  • The city is also working to create a comprehensive housing plan for low-income working people, as 52% of EBR residents spend more than 1/3 of their income on housing. Baton Rouge has the 19th highest rate of emigration in the country.

The city-parish says the HOT team will visit Shaw’s business in the near future.

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