According to the US Census Bureau 2005 American Community Survey Gulf Coast Area Data Profiles, the population of the Greater Baton Rouge Area increased from 670,403 to 685,637 post-Hurricanes Katrina and Rita of 2005. Three years later, New Orleans still has over 65,000 vacant and abandoned homes in its city. Louisiana residents were once again left devastated by Hurricane Gustav on September 1, 2008. This powerful storm is responsible for the deaths of 18 residents and displacement of 1.9 million. Approximately 51.4% of the state was ravished by winds exceeding 74 mph; damaging or destroying thousands of family homes and resulting in the loss of electricity for 800,000 residents. For many of them power has yet to be restored. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an estimated 2 million homes in Louisiana have been deemed inhabitable.
Of the population in the Greater Baton Rouge Area aged 16 and older, 4.7% are unemployed and 34.8% are not in the labor force. Moreover, 16.6% of that population makes less than $15,000 per year in income and benefits and 13.4 % of all families whose income in the past 12 months is below the poverty level.
A homeless individual has been defined as "one who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence and/or who has a primary nighttime residence that is a short-term or transitional shelter, or a place not designed for / or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodation for human beings."According to the LA Interagency Council for the Homeless 2004 Needs Assessment Survey, there are 18 shelters in East Baton Rouge Parish with a daily capacity of 561 people. Furthermore, they have served 4,719 in a 12 month period. Of those served, 3,398 were adults (18 year and older), 775 were youth (5-17 years old), and 546 were children (age 5 and under). The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Homeless Providers Grant and Pier Diem Program currently funds 150 beds in the state of Louisiana however, the state reports approximately 9,950 homeless veterans in Louisiana. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans states that 76% of these individuals experience alcohol, substance abuse, or mental health problems.