New Orleans unveils homelessness plan

Nov. 28, 2011 at 9:31 PM
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NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced a plan Monday designed to end homelessness in the city within 10 years.

''We want to end homelessness in the city of New Orleans within 10 years and in some instances, as early as five years,'' Landrieu said as he unveiled his "Housing First" plan, WWL-AM-FM, New Orleans, reported.

The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reports the city's homeless population has more than doubled since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to 6,500, and is among the highest in the nation.

The 34-page plan grew out of a process that started last summer with Landrieu's hiring of the city's first "homelessness czar," Stacy Horn-Koch, and was developed with input from homeless advocates, community leaders, businesspeople and national experts.

The plan aims to tap into strategies that have been effective in other cities, including "low-barrier" shelters that don't turn away people who arrive under the influence of drugs or alcohol or with untreated mental illness. The strategy is meant to earn the trust of "service-resistant" homeless people so they can be steered to services and housing.

Landrieu's plan calls for a public-private trust to finance initiatives and a 24-hour homeless-service center housed at the now-closed Veterans Administration hospital building. The city would add nearly 3,000 permanent-housing beds and a few hundred more shelter beds, and developers planning to serve homeless people would receive preference in receiving city affordable-house projects.

The plan says other challenges homeless people face are best dealt with when they have housing.

"Housing, and the availability of affordable housing, is the ultimate solution to homelessness, " the city's plan states.

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