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Longtime home for HIV/AIDS patients closing; lawyers fear it could worsen city's homeless problem

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

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Dozens were told this week that Our Lady of the Lake is shutting down St. Anthony's, a home for the city's HIV/AIDS population. Right now, there are no plans on where they will go next. Many of them have no incomes due to their disability.

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

Patricia Lendo has lived at St. Anthony's for 12 years.

"This is our home," Lendo said. "We are going out there in the world. It's frightening to all of us. We don't know where we are going to go."

Lendo said officials from Our Lady of the Lake came by this week and told them the facility was closing.

"They came in, some 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 by June 30."

Lawyers representing the residents said they don't think the notice was sufficient.

"Personally, I don't think after some of the residents have lived here for 10-15 years, that 60 days is enough time," Kennedy Lejeune said.

Lejeune is trying to help the residents find new places to live.

"A lot of the residents here are disabled and don't have any income," Lejeune said. "We are looking at them moving into a world where there is already a housing crisis and they don't have the ability to pay."

Our Lady of the Lake issued the following statement:

After many years of thoughtful discernment and declining community need, Our Lady of the Lake Health has decided to close St. Anthony's Home. St. Anthony's Home opened its doors over 25 years ago to care for HIV+ patients at a time when such a diagnosis was often fatal or debilitating. Thanks to advances in medicine, care management and early interventions, the need for a facility like St. Anthony's has waned drastically. We remain deeply committed to caring for our patients with HIV+ diagnoses through our Early Intervention Clinic and outpatient facilities.

Over the next two and a half months operations will wind down at St. Anthony's Home, staff will work in partnership with social services and residents to find new housing accommodations no later than June 30th. Our team is committed to helping all residents find housing solutions that meet residents' individual needs.


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