NEW ORLEANS — Standing there with a bag of items he just received, a man who wanted be known as “Russell” says his “why” for living in the abandoned naval base is simple.
“It’s warm in there and right now that’s all I can be thankful for,” he said.
It’s for people like Russell that, joined by homeless advocacy groups and NOPD, the City’s health department went into the old navy base offering blankets, health services and even drug overdose kits.
According to Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the need for homeless services in the city continues to increase.
She also says she understands how difficult it can be to pull oneself from an unhoused life.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of hoops that people have to jump through to get housing, but this is the first step on the journey,” Dr. Avegno said.
According to Dr. Avegno, this is the City’s first time at the base doing homeless outreach. She says it’s such a large building and it was such a big undertaking that they had to bring in some extra support.
“We go out with our partners like UNITY, Odyssey House and others that can link folks on the street to the services that they need,” she said.
Unity of Greater New Orleans is a collaboration of over 60 organizations providing housing and services to the local homeless population. According to outreach manager Clarence White III, partnerships with the city go a long way.
“It helps us out a lot as far as getting resources from the City to help our homeless population,” he said.
White says it goes even further when the director of health and other city workers join them side by side.
“They want to see outreach...reaching out to them to give them the homeless services that we can provide to them,” White said.
Before he went back into his spot in the base, Russell says anything and everything helps to live in these conditions.
“There’s many here that don’t have this amount,” speaking about his bag of relief items. “They won’t show themselves because they are afraid. Afraid that somebody is going to take whatever they have away. They have nothing. We all have pretty much nothing and I am grateful for what I have.”