UNITY Releases Report on Progress toward Ending Homelessness

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.

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