post katrina homeless camps in new orleans n.
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Post-Katrina Homeless Camps in New Orleans

Post-Katrina Homeless Camps in New Orleans

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Post-Katrina Homeless Camps in New Orleans

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  1. Post-Katrina Homeless Camps in New Orleans - A Community Wide Re-Housing Initiative - July 29, 2008 A monumental humanitarian achievement essential to the recovery of New Orleans Unity of Greater New Orleans, 2475 Canal Street, Suite 300, New Orleans Louisiana, 70119 Tel: (504) 821-4496 Ext. 103 Fax: (504) 821-4704 Web:

  2. New Orleans Has Accomplished What Seemed to Be Impossible In eight months beginning Nov. 21, 2007, UNITY of Greater New Orleans street outreach workers have assisted 457 people suffering in two large squalid homeless camps in the heart of downtown New Orleans to leave them for permanent housing. Outreach workers closed the first camp between Nov. 21 and Dec. 20 (the city and state then fenced it off) , and closed the second camp between Feb. 29 and July 17 (the camp remains empty despite the lack of any physical barrier). • A community-wide campaign is ongoing to resettle each person in his or her own apartment: • 319 camp residents have already been resettled in their own apartments • 117 are currently in temporary housing (medical respite hotel beds, emergency shelter) while waiting for apartments to be found • 13 were placed in temporary settings but have disappeared (outreach workers plan to find them and assist them to resettle in permanent housing) • 8 are in the hospital or in jail (outreach workers plan to assist them to resettle in permanent housing)

  3. Homelessness in Post-KatrinaNew Orleans Homelessness in New Orleans and neighboring Jefferson Parish is estimated to have doubled since the hurricane to a total of about 12,000 meeting HUD’s definition of homelessness (those living in abandoned buildings or in houses without utilities, on the street, in cars, in housing designated for the homeless, and those being evicted by judicial process or by family or friends or being released by institutions with nowhere to go). As a result of the devastation of 51,000 units of rental housing following the levee failures, there is an epidemic of people squatting in abandoned housing in New Orleans. In the past 12 months, agencies in the UNITY network have provided services and housing to over 16,000 adults and children experiencing homelessness – a 60 percent increase since Katrina in the number of unduplicated clients served by the same number of agencies.

  4. The Rise of Homeless Camps In the summer of 2007, the homeless crisis suddenly became very visible as two homeless camps formed in downtown New Orleans – a camp eventually numbering about 300 people a night formed at Duncan Plaza just outside City Hall and a second camp eventually numbering about 250 people a night formed under Interstate 10 along Claiborne Avenue. UNITY has documented 975 different individuals who lived in one or both of these camps over the period of Nov. 2007 - July 2008. 64 percent of camp residents reported they came there from one of the thousands of abandoned buildings in the city.

  5. Primary Factors Causing Post-Katrina Homeless Crisis in New Orleans • Devastation of rental housing stock and skyrocketing rents • Increases in mental and physical illness and substance addiction while healthcare infrastructure for the poor has not been rebuilt • Displacement of extended family network on which so many vulnerable people once relied

  6. How Did We Do It? • Highly skilled street outreach team passionate about re-housing people • Use of two national best practices for re-housing the street homeless. • For clients with serious mental or physical disabilities: Permanent Supportive Housing = affordable apartments coupled with ongoing tenant-based services • proven in research studies to be cost-effective solution to homelessness for vulnerable people • services aimed at stabilizing clients, keeping them housed, improving their health and self-sufficiency • For homeless clients without disabilities: • Rapid Re-housing = short-term rent assistance coupled with case management aimed at achieving self-sufficiency (job search, housing search, budgeting)

  7. Claiborne Camp SurveyFebruary 20 – 21, 2008 46-question survey designed by Common Ground, leading national non-profit developer of housing for the homeless. Includes Vulnerability Index to find those who are at highest risk of dying on the street. Surveys administered by Common Ground, UNITY, Louisiana Public Health Institute, and NOPD Homeless Assistance Collaborative. Surveys administered 6 -9 am February 20 and 5-8 am February 21 Woke each person up and asked to participate in survey. 118 of 150 persons participated in survey (79% response rate) 32 persons who did not participate are believed to have an even higher rate of disability then those who did participate. For example, 2 non-participants lacked capacity to speak

  8. 82 percent male 86 percent from New Orleans area pre-Katrina 60 percent said they were homeless due to Katrina 31 percent lost FEMA trailer or FEMA rental assistance 64 percent slept in an abandoned building before coming to the Claiborne Camp 16 percent are U.S. Military Veterans Only 1 person sleeping in the Claiborne camp is a UNITY client from the Duncan Plaza camp Claiborne Homeless Camp Demographics

  9. 80 percent have at least one disability 31 percent have more than one disability 19 percent are tri-morbid (have mental illness, physical disability, and substance addiction) 40 percent have mental illness 58 percent have substance addiction 14 percent have heart disease 10 percent have diabetes 4 percent have HIV/AIDS 4 percent have cancer 3 percent have liver disease 91 persons visited ER in past 3 months 75 percent have no health insurance Disabilities of Claiborne Residents

  10. Based on Dr. Jim O’Connell research from Boston’s Healthcare for the Homeless A 40% mortality rate over 7 years if: More than 6 months street homeless AND at least one of the following: End Stage Renal Disease History of Cold Weather Injuries Liver Disease or Cirrhosis HIV+/AIDS Over 60 years old Three or more emergency room visits in prior three months Three or more ER or hospitalizations in prior year Tri-morbid (mentally ill+ abusing substances+ medical problem) One Third of the Residents are at High Risk of Dying

  11. Claiborne Encampment Risk Indicators 39 (33%) of those surveyed met at least one High-Risk Criteria

  12. Claiborne Encampment - Three Distinct Cohorts

  13. Claiborne Encampment - Vulnerability

  14. Claiborne Encampment - FEMA 31% lost FEMA trailer or Rental Assistance

  15. Claiborne Encampment – Race/Ethnicity

  16. Institutional History • 19 (15.6%) are veterans • 8 have VA insurance • 3 have VA benefits • 83% have been in jail • 37% have been in prison • 9% were in foster care

  17. Hospital Use by Claiborne Encampment Residents 61 hospitalizations reported by 118 respondents

  18. Emergency Room Visits by Claiborne Encampment Residents 91 reported ER visits in past 3 months

  19. Where Claiborne Residents go for Routine Health Care Needs

  20. Claiborne Encampment – Emergency Health Care Services

  21. Claiborne Encampment - Insurance

  22. Profile of a Claiborne Resident • 42 year old man • New Orleans resident for 26 years • lived in a shelter before Katrina • 5 years on the streets • HIV+/AIDS • History of Hypothermia/Frostbite • 4 trips to the ER in last 3 months • “Tri-morbid” = mentally ill + abusing substances + medical problem • Surveyor suspected developmentally disabled • No reported income or insurance

  23. How New Orleans Used the Vulnerability Survey • To Determine Who to Rescue First, Given Scarce Resources • To Determine Appropriate Housing Placement • To Galvanize State and Local Government (Especially Agencies Dealing with Medical Care and Disability) to Immediately Fund Housing and Services • To Wage Successful Nationwide Campaign for 3000 Supportive Housing vouchers for Louisiana’s Hurricane-Devastated Areas • To Demonstrate that Medical Respite rather than Emergency Shelter was Appropriate Interim Housing For Most Residents While Case Managers Search for Apartments • To Recruit Landlords to House Camp Residents • To Mobilize a Community-Wide Drive for Furniture, Appliances and Household Supplies for the Camp Residents • To Counter Negative Attitudes & Stereotypes About Camp Residents • To Defeat Proposed Ordinance to Re-Criminalize Homelessness

  24. For More Information on Ways to Use the Vulnerability Index and on Humanitarian Closures of Homeless Camps: Martha Kegel, Esq., Executive Director UNITY of Greater New Orleans Angela Patterson, M.S.W. Director UNITY Welcome Home (our awesome street outreach team) Mike Miller, M.S.W. Director of Supportive Housing Placement UNITY Welcome Home