Only domestic abuse shelter in Central Louisiana set to open by summer

The former Rio Sol Nursing home in Mansura will be turned into a domestic abuse shelter.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 1:15 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2023 at 5:13 PM CDT
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MANSURA, La. (KALB) - For over a decade, domestic abuse victims in Central Louisiana have had to hope and pray that shelters across the state would be able to house them due to a lack of local resources.

However, in just a few months, the former Rio Sol Nursing Home in Mansura will once again open its doors, this time, as a shelter for men, women and children that are seeking protection from abuse.

Back in December, News Channel 5 reported that the Faith House, which is a domestic crisis center and shelter based in Lafayette, had planned on purchasing the building to provide support for those suffering from domestic abuse. On Wednesday, March 15, that purchase went through.

“This is a shelter and a home that the community is going to build and support to let the survivors in the facilities know that domestic abuse is not okay,” said Billi Lacombe, the executive director for the Faith House. “This gives them the strength to go on and start their new lives and be free from abuse.”

According to research done by the Faith House, about four million women are hurt by their partners each year, and four in six children in every classroom witness violence in their homes. Those frightening statistics are highlighted even more locally given that there are just 16 domestic abuse shelters in Louisiana. None of those are in local parishes including Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Rapides, Vernon and Winn.

This means for those seeking shelter, it requires traveling far and wide across the state to receive overnight services. However, a lack of access to shelters in Louisiana was brought to attention in a 2021 auditor’s report that showed Louisiana shelters average 2,659 unmet requests per year.

That audit report was specifically conducted due to Louisiana having the second-highest rate of female homicides in the nation and the fifth-highest back in 2018. Without a local shelter, Avoyelles Parish District Attorney Charles Riddle said the eight parishes in Central Louisiana saw some of the highest abuse rates in the state.

The area’s first domestic abuse shelter in over a decade will house over 100 people at a time and will allow them to receive support in an area that has been in desperate need of those services.

“We have seen the need in Central Louisiana for the past 12 years,” said Lacombe. “I see the transformations that are made in these facilities and I see how lives are saved and changed and I know that’s what is going to happen here.”

Lacombe said now that the purchase is finalized, the shelter will undergo renovations for about three months before it is set to open up before the start of the summer.

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