Closing of a long-standing home for HIV/AIDS patients; lawyers fear it will make the city’s homeless problem worse

BATON ROUGE — Lawyers representing residents living at a facility for HIV/AIDS patients in East Baton Rouge believe the city’s homeless problem is about to get worse.

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Dozens of people were notified this week that Notre Dame du Lac was closing St. Anthony’s, a home for the city’s HIV-positive population. At present, there are no plans on their next destination. Many of them have no income due to their disability.

St. Anthony has been a resource for patients for 25 years.

Patricia Lendo has lived in St. Anthony for 12 years.

“This is our home,” Lendo said. “We’re going out there in the world. It scares us all. We don’t know where we’re going to go.”

Lendo said Notre-Dame du Lac officials came this week and told them the facility was closing.

“They came in, new people, they were already looking for someone to buy St. Claire,” Lendo said. “They came back here and told us we had to leave before June 30.”

Lawyers representing the residents said they did not believe the notice was sufficient.

“I personally don’t think that after some residents have lived here for 10 to 15 years, 60 days is enough,” Kennedy Lejeune said.

Lejeune tries to help residents find new places to live.

“Many of the residents here are disabled and have no income,” Lejeune said. “We are watching them move into a world where there is already a housing crisis and they don’t have the ability to pay.”

Our Lady of the Lake released the following statement:

After many years of thoughtful discernment and diminishing community needs, Our Lady of the Lake Health has decided to close St. Anthony House. St. Anthony’s Home opened over 25 years ago to care for HIV-positive patients at a time when such a diagnosis was often fatal or debilitating. With advances in medicine, care management, and early intervention, the need for a facility like St. Anthony’s has diminished dramatically. We remain deeply committed to caring for our HIV-positive patients through our early intervention clinic and outpatient care facilities.

Over the next two and a half months, operations will end at St. Anthony’s Home, staff will work in partnership with social services and residents to find new homes by June 30. Our team is committed to helping all residents find housing solutions that meet the residents’ individual needs.

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