Controversy over low-barrier homeless shelter planned for Central City

Janella Newsome talks about the controversy over a proposed homeless shelter on Erato Street.

NEW ORLEANS – Monday, city leaders outlined a plan for a new homeless shelter in Central City.

However, some residents are saying they don’t want the proposed shelter in their community.

“Ending homelessness has been a priority for this administration,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Landrieu outlines his plans for a low-barrier homeless shelter in the 3100 block of Erato Street. He said for decades, advocates have called for this type of shelter to keep the homeless population safe and provide resources to improve their living conditions.

“This robust facility will serve as the front door to our homeless service system,” said Landrieu. “Low-barrier is exactly what it sounds like. There are no barriers to entry. It helps get people off the streets quickly, sobriety is not required and there is never a fee.”

According to Landrieu, the low-barrier shelter will include 75 to 100 beds with separate areas for men and women. The staff will consist of medical professionals and housing experts. Though the low-barrier shelter is considered a national best practice, some don't want it in their community.

“A low-barrier homeless shelter is intended to be for folks who are potentially intoxicated,” said Ben Kleban, N.O. College Prep School president. “Folks who may have a mental illness; folks who might have a criminal background and may even be a sex offender. I’m not trying to say that these folks aren't just as much in need, but we also need to look out for our children.”

The city has allocated $1 million to establish the shelter. The Downtown Development District has agreed to match it. From now until October 20, a number of meetings are scheduled for public opinion.

(© 2016 WWL)


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