Filed Under:  Local, News

Negotiations result in NOM opening doors to expectant mothers

10th December 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Ben Ledbetter
Contributing Writer

The New Orleans Mission will now allow pregnant women and families with children to stay at the shelter. According to a news release from the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, negotiations that lasted about one year started after the mission declined to house a woman that was seven months pregnant.

According to GNOFHAC Assist?ant Director Kate Scott, the center received a call from a woman who was seven months pregnant last December after she was evicted from the mission. Scott said that the center raised money for the woman so she would have a place to stay. The New Orleans-based agency filed a complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The agency alleged that the mission’s policy of denying shelter to women who were more than six months pregnant constituted illegal discrimination under the Fair Housing Act based on the woman’s sex and family status.

The GNOFHAC, the unnamed client and the mission reached a settlement last week. According to those terms, the mission will now adopt a policy of non-discrimination, undergo fair housing training, and provide financial restitution to the action center’s client.

“There are some facilities in New Orleans that have certain programs for certain populations,” Scott said. “The mission provides many services to many people, so that’s why it’s important they have this non-discrimination policy.

Scott said the complaint from the client is what prompted the GNOFHAC to work on the issue.

“The negotiations, we feel like, will have a positive impact, not only on our clients, but other people that seek services from the mission,” Scott said.

The New Orleans Mission was founded in 1989 and operates multiple facilities. According to the organization’s website, it houses men at its main building on Oretha Castle Hayley Blvd. and a women’s center on Bar?rone Street. It serves 12,000 meals per month and provides shelter for up to 148 adults. Other services the mission offers include a medical clinic that is operated by volunteer doctors and nurses from Louisiana State University. It also provides mail service for residents at the shelter, housing referrals, an education center, clothing distribution, a legal clinic, employment assistance, and laundry.

Guidestar.org, a website that stores financial information for a variety of nonprofits, states the New Orleans Mission received its nonprofit tax status in 1990. The organization functions entirely on donations and grants. According to financial data on Guidestar.org, the mission had total revenues of $755, 737 for the fiscal year ending in 2010. For that same year, it had $787,518 in expenses.

David Bottner is the mission’s executive director and could not be reached for comment.

“The resolution of this case is timely as we approach a holiday season where not everyone in our community has access to the homes they need,” said GNOF?HAC Executive Director James Perry in a written statement. “This year, because of the mission’s commitment to ensure fairness in their programs, we can all rest assured that individuals in need will receive the equitable treatment that they deserve.

This article was originally published in the December 10, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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