NEW ORLEANS, LA – November 5, 2014 – (RealEstateRama) — Today, New Orleans was recognized by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (Alliance) for its efforts in reducing the number of veterans experiencing homelessness by 62 percent in the last three years. Since 2011, more than 300 veterans have been sheltered in New Orleans. This recognition is part of the Alliance’s new ongoing educational initiative called Never Another Homeless Veteran external link campaign spotlighting communities like New Orleans that have taken advantage of new resources and new strategies like rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing to ensure that homeless veterans are housed.
“It is thanks to cities like New Orleans that have implemented innovative homeless assistance programs for veterans that we have achieved an historic 33 percent decline in veteran homelessness,” said National Alliance to End Homelessness President and CEO Nan Roman. “They are showing what we can accomplish when we have the resources and the determination to change lives for the better.”
The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a nonprofit, non-partisan, organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States. As a leading voice on the issue of homelessness, the Alliance analyzes policy and develops pragmatic, cost-effective policy solutions; works collaboratively with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to build state and local capacity; and provides data and research to policymakers and elected officials in order to inform policy debates and educate the public and opinion leaders nationwide.
According to numbers released last week by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of people experiencing homelessness on a given night has declined by 11 percent nationwide since 2007. During the January 2014 Point-in-Time Count, volunteers counted 578,424 people experiencing homeless. Of those, 49,933 were veterans, a decline of 11 percent since 2013.
“Veteran homelessness is an issue that we are all too familiar with, and in New Orleans we are taking this challenge head on,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “Our veterans have served our great nation courageously and it’s our turn to do our part and support these brave men and women. On Independence Day this year, we accepted First Lady Michelle Obama’s Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness and be the first major city in the United States to end homelessness among veterans by the end of this year. Through enhanced coordination of the New Orleans Interagency Council on Homelessness and the generous support of the over 60 service providers that make up our Continuum of Care, we are well on our way. I want to thank the National Alliance to End Homelessness for this recognition as we continue to serve our warriors and help them find homes.”
MAYOR’S CHALLENGE TO END VETERAN HOMELESSNESS
On July 4, 2014, Mayor Mitch Landrieu joined United States Senator Mary Landrieu, members of the New Orleans Interagency Council on Homelessness, and military leaders and veterans at The National World War II Museum to commemorate Independence Day and announce the City of New Orleans’ drive to be the first city in the nation to end homelessness among veterans by the end of 2014. In June, Mayor Landrieu participated in a panel discussion at the White House with other mayors from across the country where they shared and discussed successful strategies which have reduced veteran homelessness. At the event First Lady Michelle Obama and then-HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness which aims to eliminate veteran homelessness in American in 2015.
The Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness external link is part of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces Initiative external link aimed to increase support and opportunities for veterans.
The City of New Orleans has already achieved outstanding results on the local level: veterans’ homelessness is down 66% since 2012, and the City is well on its way to ending veterans’ homelessness by the end of 2014. The results are significant, particularly in a community where homelessness skyrocketed after Hurricane Katrina. However, Mayor Mitch Landrieu made ending veterans’ homelessness a top priority, and in partnership with the Obama Administration, the state and non-profits, the City of New Orleans has found a way.
In 2011, the City announced a Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness external link and created the New Orleans Interagency Council on Homelessness to oversee its implementation. Together with 63 partner agencies and service providers that make up the Continuum of Care and in collaboration with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the United States Inter-Council on Homelessness (USICH), the City has launched a series of successful initiatives as part of its comprehensive plan to end homelessness.
Through the 100 Day Rapid Results Boot Camp, the New Orleans team aimed to make a real impact, real fast. The goal was to house 100 veterans in 100 days, which required streamlining old processes and collaborating like never before. With focus and coordination, the New Orleans team surpassed its ambitious goal – housing 120 Veterans in 100 days.
In 2013, New Orleans reached another milestone, when the Community Resource and Referral Center opened in the local VA hospital. The Community Resource and Referral Center serves as a day shelter for the homeless, and connects homeless veterans to case managers and services. To create synergy, the center houses multiple service providers, and it is the first and only resource and referral center in the nation that provides services to veterans as well as non-veterans.
Also in 2013, the City committed HOME funds in collaboration with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, VA, Housing Authority of New Orleans, and the Downtown Development District to pay for rental assistance and develop permanent supportive housing for persons who are homeless. This initiative has been selected by HUD as one of four National Best Practices Models for ending homelessness.
To fulfill the Mayors Challenge, New Orleans is working with HUD, VA, and USICH, and the National League of Cities to leverage federal resources and implementing a local strategy to make sure every veteran in the community has access to permanent and stable housing and the supportive services they need to stay off the street. The City is coordinating with local active duty military and veterans groups through the Mayor’s Military Advisory Committee external link to develop new outreach services to better connect with homeless veterans with service providers ready to assist.
The public can help by donating gently used furniture, dishes, towels and bed linens to the UNITY warehouse. Those interested in supporting ongoing efforts to end chronic homelessness in New Orleans may contact UNITY of Greater New Orleans at (504) 821-4496 or by visiting www.unitygno.org external link.
Since 2010, when the federal government launched Opening Doors, a strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, there has been a 24 percent reduction in homelessness among veterans nationally. This reduction has been achieved through a partnership between the Obama Administration, local governments, non-profits, and the private sector. Through this final push to leverage momentum and strengthen our commitment, the goal of ending veteran homelessness in America is within reach.