Filed Under:  Local

HUD grants $18.9M in funds to help New Orleans fight homelessness

27th December 2016   ·   0 Comments

By Fritz Esker
Contributing Writer

On December 20, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded $45,603,512 in Continuum of Care (CoC) grants to support 153 homeless housing and service programs in Louisiana. Over $18.9 million of this total will be dedicated to programs in New Orleans.

HUD estimates there were 549,928 persons experiencing homelessness on an average night in 2016. But those numbers are an improvement from 2010, when President Obama and 19 federal agencies and offices that make up the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness launched the country’s first-ever comprehensive strategy to end homelessness. The plan, titled Opening Doors: the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, targets veterans and chronic homeless citizens, as well as homelessness among children and families.

The goal of the plan is to give every community the capacity to do three things. The first is to quickly identify and engage at-risk people and those experiencing homelessness. The second is to intervene to prevent the loss of housing and prevent people from entering the homelessness service system. The third is to provide immediate access to shelter and crisis services, without barriers to entry, while permanent stable housing and support services are being secured. This assistance will ideally be tailor-made to each individual, and not a one-size-fits-all model.

Since the plan’s launch in 2010, there has been a 14 percent decline in the number of people experiencing homelessness. Homelessness among veterans shrank by 47 percent, chronic homelessness fell by 27 percent, and family homelessness fell by approximately 23 percent.

“Our Continuum of Care partners are doing the hard, necessary work to house and care for the homeless every day in Louisiana,” said Tammye H. Trevino, HUD regional administrator, in a press release. “This round of funding will help ensure that 153 homeless service organizations in the state can continue their good works, providing needed services, shelters, and housing for families and individuals in desperate need.”

Continuum of Care partners in New Orleans include a wide variety of organizations. All are excited to receive continued or additional funding for 2017.

“The 2016 award does include $526,289 in net new funds over and above what our community received last year,” said Martha Kegel, executive director of UNITY of Greater New Orleans, a collaborative of 60 agencies working to end homelessness. UNITY was awarded a total of $535,862. “The new projects will allow us to rescue and permanently house 52 people with disabilities who have been living for more than a year on the street or in homeless shelters… and to rescue and permanently house 10 homeless youth and 24 homeless families using rapid rehousing… We are delighted.”

One endeavor the city is working on to help the homeless is the establishment of a low-barrier shelter on Erato Street. Low-barrier means that there will be no barriers to entry. In traditional homeless shelters, people can be denied entry for reasons like sobriety. Here, troubled homeless people would be able to have a place to stay while case managers pursued more permanent options for them and connect them with services to help fight mental health or substance abuse issues.

“This is vital funding and needs to be fully leveraged in order to address the root causes of homelessness: mental health and substance abuse,” said Latoya Cantrell, New Orleans City Council Member for District B. “That’s why it’s critical for a low-barrier shelter to house co-located services devoted to these issues.”

Edward Carlson, CEO of Odyssey House, echoed Councilmember Cantrell’s sentiments about the need for a multi-dimensional approach when dealing with the homeless situation. Odyssey House was awarded $805,444. Carlson said the funds will be used to help connect homeless people with mental health or substance abuse counseling, as well as find them more permanent housing options instead of relying on temporary shelters.

“We’re very grateful to HUD and UNITY for the funding to provide this very important resource,” said Carlson.

Sadly, many of the city’s homeless are children. The New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter is one organization that aids New Orleans’ most vulnerable.

“The…Continuum of Care grant will go towards our programs that address needs for both the mother and the child, including sheltering, case management, and employment and education services,” said Dawn Bradley-Fletcher, executive director of the New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter, who was awarded $171,948. “The need is great. There are thousands of people in New Orleans who do not have a place to live, and hundreds of them are children.”

While the HUD funds provide hope for many homeless in the Greater New Orleans Area, there is still much more work to be done.

“We do not yet have enough resources to house all the homeless people in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, but we are continuing to make significant strides in ending people’s homelessness,” said Kegel.

A full listing of housing and service programs that were selected to receive Continuum of Care grants is available on HUD’s website at

This article originally published in the December 26, 2016 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

Readers Comments (0)

You must be logged in to post a comment.