The number of homeless people in Orleans and Jefferson parishes has dropped 79 percent since 2007. A non-profit dedicated to getting those numbers even lower credits a coordinated effort for the success.
The Unity of Greater New Orleans organization keeps track of the homeless with an annual survey called the Point in Time count. It determined last month that on that day, about 2,400 people were homeless. That’s more than half the number counted last year, and 79 percent below 2007. Unity Executive Director Martha Kegel says homelessness peaked two years after Hurricane Katrina wiped out affordable housing.
“The extended-family networks that have really allowed poor people to survive in New Orleans historically had been just ripped apart, and because of that we had an explosion of homelessness," Kegel said. "We’re still dealing with the explosion in homelessness, but those numbers are now only 18 percent higher than they were pre-Katrina.”
Kegel says she’s optimistic that the New Orleans region will continue seeing a reduction in homelessness.
“With the rate of progress that we’re making, we do believe that by the time of the tenth anniversary of Katrina we will have our homeless numbers down to where they were prior to Katrina, or hopefully even lower.”
Kegel says that with government rebuilding funds ending, the final push to drive homeless numbers even lower will depend on non-profits, the business community and government agencies.