NEW ORLEANS, LA—Today, in keeping with Mayor Landrieu’s efforts to prevent, reduce, and end homelessness in New Orleans, the City announced that it has sheltered 84 homeless individuals formerly living underneath the U.S. 90/Pontchartrain Expressway overpass from South Claiborne Avenue to St. Charles Avenue.
On Monday, August 12, 2014, the City of New Orleans Health Department issued a Public Health Advisory to close the area under the U.S. 90/Pontchartrain Expressway overpass from South Claiborne Avenue to St. Charles Avenue due to health hazards. The area contained an accumulation of debris, food products, garbage, and waste which is attracting rodents. Homeless services outreach workers, volunteers, and City staff began informing individuals camped out in the area that this area would be closed to the public beginning Thursday, August 14, 2014. The team, coordinated by The City’s Office of Community Development, began assisting homeless individuals in identifying available temporary housing at area shelters.
To ensure the safety and health of all citizens, the area under the U.S. 90/Pontchartrain Expressway overpass from South Claiborne Avenue to St. Charles Avenue has been closed to the public and individuals will not be allowed to sleep, camp, or park there. The City has posted notices that there will be no parking within this area until further notice and has placed barricades to prevent vehicles from entering the area. Any automobiles found parked in this area are subject to being ticketed and towed.
Since the issuance of the Public Health Advisory on Monday, August 11, 2014, approximately 84 individuals have been admitted into area shelters. Admitted clients will be connected with services that will link them to housing, mental and physical health, and job training options. During the effort and on an ongoing basis, the City coordinated relocations and shelter housing in partnership with UNITY of Greater New Orleans, Travelers Aid, Harry Tompson Center, New Orleans Mission, Salvation Army, Ozanam Inn, Covenant House, Downtown Development District, Health Care for the Homeless, Department of Health and Hospitals, Metropolitan Human Service District, Total Community Action, Catholic Charities, DePaul USA, Southeast LA Legal Service, Hope Center LA, and Volunteers of America. The New Orleans Health Department coordinated onsite health screenings and consultations.
“This effort was an important collaboration between multiple service partners in the best interests of our citizens,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “No one should feel they have to live on the streets. This effort has both connected our homeless citizens with vital services and hopes to put them back on the path to permanent housing. Ultimately, our goal is to make sure that all New Orleanians have a place they can call home and that our city is clean and safe.”
“We have been focused on improving the quality of life for all New Orleanians, across the board, particularly for the most vulnerable in our community,” said Charlotte Parent, Director of the City of New Orleans Health Department. “Today’s efforts will reduce the risk of harm and health hazards in the impacted area.”
The City’s Department of Sanitation sent manual workers as well as mechanical street flushers and sweepers to clean this area. All mattresses, chairs and other items have been removed. The Downtown Development District provided additional support to the clean-up effort by deploying high-powered pressure washers and workers to the area. The New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board have begun assessing the area for rodent control work. The New Orleans Police Department and its Homeless Assistance Unit will regularly patrol the area.
In order to prevent individuals from congregating in this area again, the NOPD will closely monitor the area. The City requests that the public direct all donations, especially food, to area shelters and homeless service providers and not distribute on public rights of ways.