NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced the successful placement of 244 chronically homeless and vulnerable homeless individuals in just 100 days as part of the 200 Homes in 100 Days Campaign. From May 24 to September 1, 2013, the City advanced the campaign in cooperation with UNITY of Greater New Orleans, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, State of Louisiana, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development New Orleans Field Office, and 60 partner agencies and homeless service providers that make up the Continuum of Care. The campaign addresses the needs of those who have been homeless for more than one year or who have experienced four episodes of being homeless in the past three years to follow on the Obama Administration’s goal of ending chronic homelessness nationwide by 2015.
“The success of this campaign is a testament to the hard work of so many who are committed to making a real difference in the lives of our most vulnerable citizens,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “Having just marked the eighth year anniversary since Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the federal levees, it is important to remember those who are in the most need. New Orleanians know what it is like to be without a home and many who never thought they would ever be homeless were suddenly left with nothing. Among those targeted for housing in this initiative are vulnerable individuals who, due to chronic and persistent physical and mental health issues, are frequent users of emergency services in order to stabilize them and lower the use of emergency services.”
In 2011, Mayor Landrieu introduced a Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness based on best practices from across the country. The plan focuses to provide immediate housing and supportive services necessary to improve an individual’s quality of life and their ability to sustain housing status. The plan also provides strategies for addressing housing for unsheltered homeless individuals living in and around downtown and those living in abandoned, blighted buildings.
“This campaign was an ambitious challenge in our continuing fight to end homelessness and the response from the community has been tremendous and our great success is indicative of what can be accomplished when we work together,” said Stacy Horn Koch, Director of Neighborhood Services and Facilities, Homeless Policy for the City of New Orleans. “By exceeding our goals, we now have further momentum towards becoming the first major city in the United States to end chronic homelessness by 2015.”
Local landlord participation is essential to continued success. Landlords with available rental units at 80% of the fair market rent or below are encouraged to contact UNITY Housing Link www.unityhousinglink.org or 899-4589 ext. 111 or 114. Landlords participating in this program have the benefit of working with a case management team to assist with tenant issues, the assurance of timely rental payments, and the satisfaction of knowing they are participating in a program to revitalize the New Orleans community by assisting its most vulnerable citizens.
According to UNITY, there are currently 2,419 homeless people in Orleans and Jefferson parishes compared to 2,051 in 2005. There were 11,619 people living on the streets in 2007 and in subsequent years that number dropped steadily to 8,725 in 2009, 6,687 in 2011, and 4,903 in 2012.
“We are passionate about helping to make New Orleans the first city to end chronic homelessness,” said Martha Kegel, executive director of UNITY of Greater New Orleans, a collaborative of 60 agencies providing housing and services to the homeless. “We intend to keep prioritizing housing for the most vulnerable and those longest homeless until we have ended the tragedy of people with disabilities having to sleep outside, often for years on end. The public can help by donating gently used furniture, dishes, towels and bed linens to the UNITY warehouse – the necessities for those who have nothing to start a new life in an apartment. We also need more landlords to participate in this worthy effort by agreeing to accept rent assistance for people with special needs.”
"It takes a team of teams to prevent and end homelessness and in the New Orleans area, federal, state, local and private agencies have come together to accept this challenge. We’ve made great strides, and we have a long way to go to meet President Obama’s 2015 goal," said Director Julie Catellier, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System. "Opening the Community Resource and Referral Center this fall and working with our partners, we will make this goal a reality."
R. Erich Caulfield, New Orleans White House Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Initiative Team Lead said, "The SC2 Team is excited to have been a part of such an important and meaningful collaboration--one that has helped provide hope, dignity and support to some of our community's most vulnerable citizens."
Those interested in supporting ongoing efforts to end chronic homelessness in New Orleans may contact UNITY of Greater New Orleans at (504) 821-4496 or by visiting www.unitygno.org.