Tag: "abandoned building"
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
Coming up on the 5-year anniversary of Katrina and the levee failures, our Executive Director told the staff the other day she is concerned that people across the country may not realize that the devastation caused by Katrina still remains. “People think everything’s back to normal.”
Coming up on five years already, huh? Damn, time flies when you’re trying to rebuild a city from the greatest man-made disaster in the history of the United States. (Can’t seem to write about this without the obligatory melodramatic sentence). For those of us who live, work and love our city, the epic flooding has become not just a physical, emotional and economic obstacle, it’s a temporal bookmark. In a city that marks the passing of time by less traditional seasons (i.e. crawfish, The Saints, Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest), the absolute linear progression of life is bisected not by the Mississippi, but by Hurricane Katrina. Simply, there is Pre-Katrina and Post-Katrina. Some would say if you didn’t know New Orleans before the water, you don’t know New Orleans. I would argue that if you don’t know New Orleans after the water, you don’t know America.
About 15 blocks from Brad Pitt’s Make it Right green project, a massive and highly touted redevelopment of the Lower 9th Ward, exists a pair of sisters. They continue to live in a flooded, un-gutted “house”. The moldy drywall is accented by wet insulation that has crept out of the crumbling walls. The roof leaks where the sisters were hacked out of the attic four days after Katrina made landfall. The hole, covered by a tattered blue FEMA tarp, contributes to the dampness of the floorboards and the profuse smell of mold and rotting wood. These are the same blocks where Anderson Cooper made his career recounting the human tragedy of Katrina, the same neighborhood that was visited by hundreds of the most powerful politicians in the world, where millions of dollars and thousands of volunteers brought a second flood to a two square mile neighborhood. Spike Lee centered his documentary on these blocks eventually winning three Emmy Awards for his efforts. The whole world’s microscope was focused on one neighborhood and these two sisters might as well have been microscopic. One sister suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and the other is developmentally disabled. Coming up on five years already, huh?
I’ve got another man who has been living in his car for the last 4 years. He gets treated for anxiety, PTSD and his preferred method of self-medication, alcohol. Last couple of years he’s tried to commit suicide by tying a rope around his neck, connecting it to his car bumper and putting it in drive. He gave up on these clumsy attempts and dedicated his life to numbing his psychic pain through the bottle. “I lost my tools in the water. Nobody is going to hire a guy like me now. Shit man! I used to have everything.” He still talks about seeing bloated bodies decomposing in the water. Did I mention my client is a Vietnam War Veteran? Apparently, Charlie has nothing on Katrina.
In Central City there is an abandoned church that is over 170 years old. It was built by slaves in their free time, a memorial to the brutality of chattel slavery and the importance of personal conviction. One hundred and seventy years of American history, a civil war and countless hurricanes failed to crumble its historic walls. But when the levees failed, four and a half feet of water saturated the plaster walls and opened the slate roof to the swampy elements. It is no longer home to a vibrant congregation praising the gospel, but three homeless clients who have embraced its abandonment as home. Their personal conviction is the importance of housing, not religion.
Five years already, huh? In a city older than America five years is pretty short. Go ahead and tell that to my clients who have spent the last five years trying to get home.