Shockingly, filthy halfway house is operating correctly
BAKER – The law allows for halfway houses to operate without licenses, and the sanitary situation at one in East Baton Rouge raises questions from family of people who live there.
At the All the Way House off Highway 19, bed bugs cover mattresses, a dead rat is smashed in a trap and rat droppings are seen around the place. Nothing is technically wrong, though, since the state does not regulate such operations unless the homes provide medical care.
Though, it's frustrating for people who are related to residents there.
“I experienced pure filth,” Carolyn Howard said about her visit to see someone she knows staying there.
“[The relative] said, 'come see the rats.'” And, she saw them.
The All the Way House is operated by Miracle Place Church and pastor Ricky Sinclair.
Sinclair acknowledged there's a problem, but said it's better than where the residents were living – on the streets.
"Lots of these people I take from off the streets, and they were living under bridges, and they were smoking crack and meth," Sinclair said. "So if you want to think about the conditions they came from versus these conditions, it's a win-win."
"We have a bed bug epidemic right now,” he said, adding he spent $800 on do-it-yourself chemicals to try and eradicate the bugs.
"We've taken mattresses out and there are three different chemicals we're spraying right now,” Sinclair said Friday.
But, for Howard, the woman with a relative there, it's not enough. She said her nephew is staying there because her own efforts to get him to stay away from substance abuse wasn't working.
"It's wrong and unfair," Howard said. "Even if all these men have problems, they are humans, and they deserve better."
Sinclair waived the $5,500 fee for a year-long stay, she said but is still frustrated. Howard hopes for a cleaner environment.
The City of Baker said the halfway house meets all zoning requirements because it's being operated out of a church and not a home. Sinclair said he takes no government money to run it and relies solely on donations and the fees the men pay to stay there.