At UNITY’s annual meeting — on Wed., March 27 — we will announce new data showing a decrease in homelessness over the past year. Join us!
Wednesday, March 27 at 10 a.m.
Holy Angels Concert Hall
3500 St. Claude Ave.
The meeting will also feature:
– a keynote speech about jazz and homelessness by Irvin Mayfield
– remarks by Martha Burt, one of the nation’s most prominent researchers on homelessness
– introductions to people that UNITY and its 63 member agencies housed this year
– several awards to advocates and agencies
Mayfield’s speech is entitled “Jazz, Community, and Homelessness.” Burt’s will be called, “What Everyone Ought to Know About Homelessness.”View Post
“Unity, Covenant House and other nonprofit agencies are doing what they can: providing shelter, getting as many people as possible into permanent housing, checking on isolated homeless people spread across the city. But they need more resources,” says a Times-Picayune opinion piece focused on the recent Covenant House sleepover. Read it here.
Los Angeles Project 50 shows it costs more to leave vulnerable neighbors on the street than it does to house them permanently
A research authority with the County of Los Angeles has released its cost-effectiveness findings on Project 50, the County’s ambitious 2007 effort to move its most long-term, vulnerable homeless people into permanent housing. The report compared a cohort of long-term homeless individuals who did not participate in Project 50 to those who did. Its conclusion may not surprise many of you: it costs more to leave vulnerable neighbors on the street than it does to house them permanently. Some of the highlights:
- Between 2008 and 2010, Project 50 cost the county $3.045 million but generated $3.284 million in estimated savings. That is equivalent to a $4,774 surplus for each apartment provided. This is a 7.2% return on investment over 2 years.
- Incarceration costs for program participants fell 28% in their first year in Project 50, compared to a 42% increase for non-participants.
- Medical costs for Project 50participants fell 68% in their first year, compared to a 37% drop for the control group.
Read the Los Angeles Times article about Project 50 here.View Post
UNITY’s Executive Director, Martha Kegel said that she believes that the Priest piece is intended to be a commentary about New Orleans and its failed federal levees. “That which was supposed to protect us – the levee system — was instead the instrument of our doom because of faulty design,” she said. “The piece depicts a child who is wearing a raincoat and rain hat intended to protect him from rain, but instead he is not protected at all.”
Read the full article here.View Post
Progress in reducing homelessness is remarkable
There were just more than 2,000 homeless people in the two parishes before Hurricane Katrina, a figure that exploded to more than 11,600 by January 2007. But according to a January count by UNITY of Greater New Orleans, the number of homeless residents has dropped to 4,903. That’s still twice as many as before the storm–there is still plenty for work to be done. Read the full Times-Picayune article here.View Post
On Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 11am Johnnie Suer became the first tenant in a brand-new, 60-unit building at Tulane Avenue and Galvez Street–The Rosa F. Keller Building. This building, owned by UNITY of Greater New Orleans, is the New Orleans’ first mixed-income Permanent Supportive Housing building for the homeless.
Read the full Times-Picayune article here.View Post
With New Orleans’ stock of blighted structures still among the nation’s largest nearly five years after Hurricane Katrina, residents on Monday implored advisers to Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu to take tough action against delinquent property owners.
In offering suggestions to Landrieu’s task forces on housing and blight, participants also urged the new administration, which takes office May 3, to show compassion to the poor and homeless who take refuge in abandoned buildings and to prioritize salvaging historic structures.
With the latest estimate of blighted residential addresses in the city topping 50,000, about 100 residents showed up at Southern University at New Orleans to discuss a top quality-of-life concern.
“Our biggest problem is private owners. It’s been five years. I cannot develop homes in my area and try to get people to come in to buy them if they have to live next to houses that have not been gutted,” said Madaline Trepagnier, president of the neighborhood organization in Pines Village in eastern New Orleans.
Trepagnier suggested that city officials give owners of blighted properties 90 days to clean up their lots before forcibly clearing the ruin. “It’s not fair to those of us who have invested thousands and thousands of dollars in our community,” she said.
Another eastern New Orleans community leader, Barbara Hornsby, asked the new administration to target commercial structures she called “eyesores” and “fire hazards.”
“I need to know when the apartment complexes are coming down on the I-10 corridor,” she said. “I need to know: When are businesses going to be held accountable for tearing their properties down?”
Several property owners complained that some city-owned buildings are among the worst blight offenders, while one objected to languishing FEMA trailers.
“You must give priority to those New Orleanians who live here, not to those who own property here but live elsewhere,” resident Stanley Cohn said.
Amid calls for aggressive action came appeals for new strategies. Several speakers said the policy of piling fines on owners of blighted lots doesn’t work. Some offenders simply won’t pay, they said, while others’ obstacles to rebuilding are worsened by growing liens.
Meanwhile, several advocates for homeless residents encouraged task force members to generate policy suggestions that expand the availability of affordable housing.
“While it is so important for us to rebeautify our city and get rid of these abandoned buildings, … just have a very spelled-out plan for the people who are currently living in those spaces and emphasize the importance of affordable housing for those people,” said Megan Massett, who estimated that 12,000 New Orleanians are homeless.
Landrieu did not attend Monday’s session because he was in Boston to meet today with current and former U.S. mayors and to participate in a Harvard University conference on inspiring public service, a transition team spokesman said.
by Scott Satchfield / WWL Eyewitness NewsView Post
Weathered hands, rough from icy temperatures and years of strife, gripped small candles Friday night in memory of 14 homeless people who died while living on the streets of New Orleans.
The event, attended by dozens of homeless people, was planned by Healthcare for the Homeless, whose doctors have long documented how homeless people, many of whom ended up on the streets because of untreated mental illness, often suffer from a host of other medical conditions.
Over time, “homelessness kills people,” said UNITY of Greater New Orleans director Martha Kegel, as she and a group of social workers and homeless people formed a circle of candles outside the New Orleans Mission.
The list of this year’s dead, as recorded by UNITY caseworkers, included Ralph McGee and Terry Lawhorn, who suffered fatal strokes; Gary Sing and Timothy Larson, who were stabbed; Herbert Clark, who had a heart attack; Richard Peck, who was shot; Debra Reed, found unresponsive in May and soon died; Trina Bryant, who in October died of cancer; and Larry Bumtas, whose body was found on the Algiers Point batture. The names for a few others were unknown and two were known only by their nicknames, such as “Drunk Dave,” who overdosed in an abandoned building in July, and “Cherokee,” who died of alcohol poisoning at a local hospital.
The vigil was especially poignant for Kegel, whose caseworkers spent the better part of Thursday evening determining which of the homeless people who sleep in front of the New Orleans Mission were most likely to die soon without housing.
From the crowd of a few dozen people sleeping on cold concrete and makeshift cardboard beds, they transported 12 to a low-cost hotel near downtown. Among the 12 was a woman with end-stage cancer, two partially paralyzed men and several people suffering with paranoid schizophrenia or other serious mental illness — “the sickest of the sick,” said Kegel.
UNITY will house them with short-term rental subsidies provided by a new partnership with the city of New Orleans that uses federal stimulus money. But the organization still needs to find additional money to feed their new clients and to pay for the motel rooms while UNITY caseworkers get them stabilized with medical and mental health care, Kegel said.
George Lee, 45, had just checked into a Mid-City motel as one of UNITY’s new clients. He grew up in Hollygrove and because he had always lived with family had never before been homeless, a common situation for many in the city’s post-Katrina surge of homelessness.
Lee has trouble standing for more than hour at a time because of two steel rods implanted in place of his legs’ tibia bones after an accident years ago, but he had a problem with his disability checks that he’s been unable to resolve.
So he learned to cover himself completely at night to keep out the rats that he feels run across his blankets. He keeps his shoes close so they don’t get stolen. And he’s learned that, if they hope to survive homelessness, he and other homeless people need to be each other’s keeper. “That’s all we got out there is each other,” said Lee.
Katy Reckdahl, The Times-PicayuneView Post