Each day of the week in her ten passenger van, B.B. St. Roman assists about 12 homeless individuals through the city of New Orleans.
B.B. St Roman is the Executive Director for NOPD’s Homeless Assistance Unit, and she's been caring for homeless individuals since the unit was launched 13 years ago.
“The idea is to connect people with services, so they can get off the streets and they’re not homeless anymore and also get the help that they need,” said St. Roman.
Retired NOPD Eighth District Captain Louis Dabdoub III started the program back in 2003. At that time, he applied for a grant to purchase a ten passenger van, quickly organized the details of the program and hired B.B. St Roman in March of 2004.
“Until the van arrived, I walked everywhere, interacting with homeless people but not transporting them yet,” said B.B. St. Roman. “That's how I learned what a full-time job it was to be homeless!”
As of today, she’s transported more than 15,000 homeless individuals to shelters, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, jobs and other services. Although B.B. is often in the French Quarter and Downtown area where most services are located, she also helps assist when called to other areas of town.
“I have the time to go to a scene and sit down and talk to a person for a while and find out what they need and see if they need healthcare, housing, a job, or to get back home,” said B.B. St. Roman. “Whatever it is maybe even a TB test.”
However, the biggest part of her job is taking homeless individuals twice a week to get their state ID or state license at the DMV.
Lantern Light and Ozanam Inn are two agencies that assist with funding state IDs and licenses for the homeless, and at times B.B. St. Roman’s own nonprofit, Crescent City Outreach, pitches in to pay any additional fees.
“We realized that was a very big issue for people. You need your ID for everything, so that is a key part of the program that I feel is very important,” said St. Roman.
B.B. says the impact she makes and the wonderful stories she hears is what keeps her going every day. Although St. Roman isn’t a commissioned officer, she’s quick to tell anyone her smile has been her biggest weapon for the last 13 years.
“I really appreciate the change to be able to help people in an official capacity like as part of the NOPD with the resources that I can connect together,” said St. Roman.