JEFFERSON PARISH, La. — There are pockets of homelessness along the busy Veterans Boulevard corridor in Metairie.
There are also encampments under the elevated Westbank Expressway.
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing this creep all over the parish, east bank, west bank, no district is being spared at this point from this,” JP Councilman Dominick Impastato said.
Impastato, who represents parts of West Metairie and Kenner says the state police and Louisiana Department of Transportation recently addressed a large homeless camp under the Interstate near the Veterans exit.
“In each of these places where we’re seeing cluster of homeless folks setting up camp, when we do invoke law to help us remove them from public property, in a matter of weeks, we see it come back again,” Impastato said.
That’s where the Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority comes in.
The agency has a team that goes out and makes contact with homeless individuals.
“Under the bridge, by the various locations where these encampments are seen, by the canals, behind buildings and we’ll try to engage these individuals into services,” Rosanna DiChiro Derbes, JPHSA Executive Director said. “That may mean getting their mental health services or housing services, employment services, general case management services.”
Dichiro Derbes said addressing homelessness is not an easy task.
“Because of lot of these individuals have been homeless for a long time or the ones who are newly homeless are homeless because of some untreated or even undiagnosed mental health or substance abuse issue.”
Complicating matters is the lack of a homeless shelter in Jefferson Parish.
Affordable rental units have also been in short supply since Hurricane Ida last summer.
Councilman Impastato says he and other council members met last week with the JP administration to discuss the homeless encampments. They are now considering ways to beef up parish ordinances to make it easier for law enforcement to address the issue.
“We’re not curing the problem by doing what’s been done so far. There’s more that needs to be done,” Impastato said. “It’s not something that the citizens in Jefferson Parish I believe are going to tolerate or be open to, not at all.”
JP council members plan to discuss the homeless problem at their next meeting.
The Jefferson Human Services Authority asks residents if they see homeless people living on public or private property to report it to their district council member.
The agency will then go out and make contact with them.