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
Homelessness down 58 percent since 2007
Read the full report here.
UNITY of Greater New Orleans, a 20-year-old award-winning nonprofit that coordinates community campaigns to end homelessness, today released the 2012 report, Homelessness in Greater New Orleans: A Report on Progress Toward Ending Homelessness. This research initiative is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is conducted annually through a collaboration of over 50 agencies working to end homelessness.
The Point in Time Count, on which this study is based, was conducted during the 24 hours that began at noon on January 23, 2012. This count included a search of abandoned buildings for signs of habitation as well as in-person surveys of homeless individuals. The report documents the number of individuals, as well as demographic characteristics, who live in temporary homeless shelter or are unsheltered during that 24-hour period.
“We are very encouraged by the progress in reducing homelessness that these data show,“ said Martha Kegel, Executive Director of UNITY. “Low-income people and those with disabilities continue to struggle to find housing in our community, but the situation is getting better and the amount of homelessness continues to decline as our city moves forward with its recovery.” She praised the work of 50 nonprofits in the homeless services collaborative as well as HUD, the city, Jefferson Parish, the state, the housing authorities and Metropolitan Human Services District in working together to fund and implement effectively housing programs for the homeless.
The study found that the number of people in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish who are unsheltered or living in temporary homeless shelter on any given night in 2012—4,903—has decreased 27% from last year’s count and 58 percent since 2007. Still, the 4,903 number remains 2.4 times larger than the pre-Katrina count of 2,051. While this represents an accurate snapshot of one 24-hour period, over the course of a year many more people fall in and climb out of homelessness. The agencies in UNITY’s network have served over 21,600 people meeting the HUD definition of homelessness in 2011, according to UNITY’s Homeless Management Information System.
“There are many factors contributing to the decrease in number from 2011 to 2012,” said Kegel. “These include the City of New Orleans’ massive Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program; expansion of the UNITY collaborative’s work; new Permanent Supportive Housing beds; the permanent rehousing of about 80 persons from the Calliope Street homeless camp; and an increasing supply of affordable rental housing as New Orleans continues to recover from Katrina.”
UNITY of Greater New Orleans is a nonprofit, 501(c) (3) organization founded in 1992. UNITY leads a collaborative of 65 organizations providing housing and services to the homeless.View Post
And he didnt move into the White House. He moved into homelessness.
This Andrew Jackson was honorably discharged as an Army Private after Vietnam. He was awarded four medals in his service to our country.
He returned home after the horror of war.
Already stricken with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his time in the service, Mr. Jackson later endured another set of horrors which worsened his condition – his parents drowned in their family home in New Orleans East as a result of the levee failures that followed Hurricane Katrina.
The UNITY Outreach Team found Mr. Jackson living in the destroyed home where his parents tragically died. He was 61 years old, suffering from severe disabilities, and had lived there for years with no lights, water or heat. During those years, he suffered a heart attack, but he still continued to live in subhuman conditions, suffering from further trauma to his already fragile emotional health.
Last year, just before Christmas, UNITY placed Mr. Jackson in his new apartment through a program for homeless people with disabilities. The services and supports he receives through the program help him remain stably and permanently housed.
Now that he is no longer homeless, Mr. Jackson is doing well. He reads his bible, meditates, and socializes with his neighbors. His health has improved, he has friends, and he has the opportunity to starte a life free from the trauma of homelessness, while he continues to heal from the many traumas he has already endured with the ongoing support of UNITY and case managers through UNITY’s partner agencies.
Mr. Jackson’s story is one of many tragedies and injustices that UNITY encounters on a daily basis. Throughout our city on any given night, more than 9,000 people are living with the pain of homelessness.
UNITY works every day to end homelessness for people like Mr. Jackson. Some are veterans. Some are elderly. Some are mothers with young children. All are vulnerable and in need of our help. Will you join us today in creating an end to homelessness for others like Mr. Jackson?
UNITY works to make sure that our neighbors like Mr. Jackson will never know the pain of homelessness again. Your gift today can help us serve many more people who are homeless right now. Click here to make a donation.View Post
We are happy to announce that one of UNITY’s clients has been featured on the HUD Homeless Resource Exchange website as a ‘promising practice and success story’ of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program (HPRP). The client, Mr. B, affectionately called Silver Man because of the silver paint he dons as a street performer in the French Quarter, had been homeless for over a year when he was found living in an abandoned building by the UNITY Outreach Team. Mr. B. is now stably housed and is receiving services from his case manager, Ali Salinas, to help him become self-sufficient and remain in housing.
The HPRP Program is a Stimulus Act program that has worked to prevent and end homelessness for over 1 million people across the country since its inception in 2009. Locally, over 1,700 homeless or at-risk families or individuals have received short-term rent assistance and case management through the program, which utilizes a network of 16 UNITY member agencies. UNITY extends special thanks to the City of New Orleans, the UNITY Outreach Team, HPRP Contracts Manager Valerie Reinhard, and HPRP Case Manager Ali Salinas for all of their hard work in housing Mr. B and thousands of others like him.
To read the story on Mr. B written by Ms. Ali Salinas, click here.View Post
She had to get to the school. As Carrie pushed through chest-deep water, she knew that the second floor of the school would provide safety. Before she reached the school, she was knocked off her feet and hit by a heavy piece of debris, pummeling her in the lower back. She regained her footing and plunged ahead.
Carrie and a small band of neighbors were rescued by the National Guard. Once evacuated to Texas, medical personnel began the ongoing attempts to alleviate Carrie’s searing back pain.
When Carrie returned to New Orleans, she found that the house she rented was gone. A neighbor allowed her and her older brother to stay in their flooded home. Carrie, a forty-year veteran of the hospitality industry, was unable to work because of her back injury. The two siblings eked out a meager existence on the brother’s disability income and their weeks in the small flooded house stretched to months, then years.
Carrie and her brother gutted the house and covered the walls with plastic campaign signs. They cooked meals on a steel drum and laundry was washed on the porch and hung on the fence to dry. However no amount of tenacity could turn on the electricity or the decrepit plumbing. Leaks in the storm-damaged roof overwhelmed the cans, pots and pans strategically placed throughout the house to catch the New Orleans rain.
When her brother moved in with his girlfriend, Carrie continued to fight the rats, insects and severe weather conditions. The only time outreach workers ever witnessed Carrie letting down her guard was on an early-morning visit to tell her that she had been approved for housing. Carrie sobbed and sobbed – she was exhausted. She could finally give up fighting off the rats that invaded each night.
Today, Carrie is in a lovely little apartment with electricity, running water and a door that locks. She lives in a neighborhood where friends are nearby. She has gathered a few pieces of clean, functional furniture and has put her own touch on her apartment with recovered knick-knacks that truly reflect her hope and belief in the future.View Post
A veteran with extensive military training, Stephen was trained to survive in brutal conditions – insect infestations, brutal heat, soaking rains, searing cold – surrounded by people who may wish to do you harm. However, he never thought he would have to use these survival skills, and more, in the town where he was raised.
In 2007, when he lost his job and his apartment, Stephen went to the place where he felt comforted and protected as a child – his grandmother’s house. His grandmother died a decade ago and the house had been sold, but the old Victorian home had flooded after Katrina and the new owner left it ungutted and unsecured.
The familiar walls, now covered with mold and slowly rotting away, gave Stephen a modicum of consolation, but the abandoned building had neither electricity, running water, working bathroom nor a lockable door. Even though he drinks, living across the street from an active crack house also caused discomfort for Stephen.
Now housed in a clean apartment in a safe neighborhood, Stephen can use his housing security to pursue a job and stability.View Post
The last week was a blur of excruciating hunger and several feeble suicide attempts. He sat down in the old abandoned factory along the river and just stared at it. He didn’t know what would happen, but he figured it wouldn’t be good. Depression is a strange sickness; it’s the kind of thing that makes swallowing a pint glass of anti-freeze a better alternative than life. He swallowed the sweet-tasting liquid and waited for the end.
Staring out at the river, he saw the UNITY van pull up. Two guys in yellow shirts started walking toward the busted steel door and up the crumbling stairs. “Anybody home? UNITY! Homeless Outreach!” They yelled.
Exhausted from the poison spreading through his body, he didn’t even get up. He wasn’t sure who they were or if he even cared. They could have been hallucinations, the police or even angels for all he knew.
They turned the corner into the hollowed room and jumped at the presence of a man sitting quietly. He told them about the futile attempts to hang himself and the recent cocktail of anti-freeze. He was tragically depressed, precariously hanging on to his humanity. They told him that they were taking him to the hospital, even if they had to drag him.
He spent over a week in the hospital hooked up to dialysis, entertaining a harem of medical personnel. Mitch Madorin was a gifted contractor. His design work has been featured in national trade magazines and his cross-country exploits produce excellent bar-room fodder. It was an interesting, but isolated life that eventually spiraled into depression. “You start to run the tape of your life and you don’t like what you see.”
Today, Mitch volunteers in the rebuilding efforts. He has been stably housed for almost a year and has not had a return to depressive symptoms. He has been accepted into the Ameri-Corps Vista Program and continues to weigh his options.View Post
Her five children, ages 8 to 17, have lived through their mother’s hell. Yet when they kiss her goodnight, they see a survivor. A victim of numerous rapes and unremitting domestic violence who turned to drugs for solace – Wendy has made the changes in her life to ensure her children a healthier future.
Wendy moved to New Orleans to work in the Katrina recovery efforts. She lost her job and ability to pay for housing as the clean-up efforts slowed down. In the fall of 2009, Wendy moved her family into an abandoned hotel for three months until UNITY Welcome Home workers learned of her situation.
UNITY worker Laniker Hunter worked closely with Wendy to secure a safe and healthy home for her and her children. The children are happily attending school and Wendy, now clean and sober, is attempting to start her own cleaning business.View Post