$15 Million Federal Assistance Set to Benefit New Orleans’ Homeless Community
Supporters and advocates of New Orleans’ in Louisiana homeless community were jubilant on Monday, April 17, when they learned that a substantial federal grant of $15 million had been awarded to the city. This sizable funding is anticipated to bring a new level of support and assistance to the city’s homeless population that has not been witnessed before.
The competition for the federal grants was intense, with roughly 200 American cities vying for the aid provided by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Out of this competitive pool, only 60 cities, including New Orleans, were successful in their applications. The exact grant amount, $14,962,540, was awarded to UNITY of Greater New Orleans, an organization that works to combat homelessness, particularly for those individuals living in unsheltered environments and in rural communities.
Congressman Troy Carter, a Democrat from New Orleans, stated, “Everyone deserves safe, affordable housing. It’s a fundamental human requirement and right.” Carter expressed his belief that the grant money announced will provide necessary resources to support individuals experiencing homelessness, with a goal of helping them transition into permanent housing.
Both current and former homeless residents of New Orleans shared their optimism that this financial aid could help address the city’s persistent homelessness issue. Diapolis Banks, who became homeless seven months ago after losing his Chicago home over a legal matter, now resides under the Claiborne Avenue overpass in New Orleans. Banks shared his unique perspective of homelessness, remarking on the experiences, thoughts, and identities of those who share his situation.
Banks is part of an estimated homeless population of 1,200 individuals in New Orleans. While he expressed his readiness to move on, he expressed concern for others. Now, with the significant financial boost from HUD, the city is better equipped to address the issue.
UNITY of Greater New Orleans, a coalition of mental health and housing providers, was the organization that secured the grant. The local medical community has also pledged to match the $15 million grant, promising to provide additional mental health assistance, counseling, and other services aimed at aiding many individuals transition from the streets into more stable living conditions.
Martha Kegel, a member of UNITY, celebrated this collaborative effort, highlighting the potential to develop necessary resources to permanently house 400 highly vulnerable individuals, the majority of whom live with disabilities.
There is strong optimism that this significant funding can greatly alleviate the city’s homelessness issue. Yet, it’s also clear that the solution depends heavily on the involvement of healthcare workers, social workers, and counselors. Filling these roles can be a challenge, a point acknowledged by Calvin Johnson, a coalition member and former Judge.
As for Banks, he keeps his area under the Claiborne overpass clean, despite the rubbish accumulating in other areas. Regardless of their circumstances, Banks insists that everyone under the bridge, including those battling addiction and homelessness, deserves recognition as fellow human beings.
Once the grant funds become available later this summer, city officials plan to use the funds to reduce the number of homeless encampments, such as the one beneath Claiborne, by assisting hundreds of individuals in moving into more permanent housing.