Volunteers of America North Louisiana may face a severe cut in its services to people with chronic mental illnesses .
The proposed state budget cut includes a $244,000 cut to non-profits behavioral health day program. Without the funds, VOA officials say 16 people with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia would be homeless; another 74 would not receive the clinical services they need.
"Every year we have to deal with these kinds of cuts," said Brian Byrd, Regional Vice President of VOA North Louisiana. "Already, we have a gap in what it costs to run our services and the funds we get in from the state or federal government and so we are going to have to raise that locally. This was shocking because it is more cost effective and its highly successful. "
According to the VOA, its clients hospital visits have decreased by 96 percent since they started coming to the drop-in center to seek help and therapy. The House Appropriations Committee will discuss the proposed cut April 1.