New homeless camp under expressway frustrates nearby residents

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wwltv.com

Posted on October 12, 2012 at 6:11 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 12 at 6:28 PM

Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: bcapo@wwltv.com | Twitter: @billcapo

NEW ORLEANS - A sizable community of the homeless has appeared under the Pontchartrain Expressway between LaSalle and Camp Streets on a daily basis.

Tents, mattresses, bags and boxes of belongings, and people lounging or sleeping. Those who live nearby are fed up.

"It's horrific. I mean, it is just horrific," said area resident Cassandra Sharpe. "This is Welcome to Downtown. We have out of towners that see this."

"I almost got attacked under this bridge," said Jacqueline Smith, who is homeless. "It's real dangerous, you feel me?"

Smith says she's been homeless since Katrina, and agrees these are terrible conditions.

"It's sad, it's filthy under here," Smith said. "Ain't no human being got no business living like this under here.

When asked why she doesn't seek shelter somewhere else, Smith responded, "I don't have no money. I'm homeless."

There has to be enforcement for public urination, public defecation, littering, loitering, vagrancy," said Sharpe.

But for the neighbors, they say it is long past time for something to be done, so now they're writing Gov. Bobby Jindal.

"Well, I wrote him because we're not getting any real response from the city," said Sharpe.

"Do you have a plan that will end people living under that interstate? I have a plan that will seriously decrease the number of people living under that interstate," said the Mayor's Homeless Liaison Stacy Horn Koch.

Last year, police moved everyone out, and the mayor's homeless liaison says 75 of the 100 they found housing for are still there.

Now she says they are working daily with those in the new camp, with a plan in the making.

"It moves them into shelters and then out into transitional housing, and then into Permanent Supportive Housing," said Koch.

"Tell Mitch Landrieu can he please help us?" pleaded Jacqueline Smith.

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