NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – If you’ve driven on or near the Pontchartrain Expressway recently, you probably have noticed what looks like a tent city. Over the last few months the homeless population has surged in the area.
Unity of Greater New Orleans says over 120 homeless people are sleeping under the expressway, although that only makes up 6% of the overall homeless population.
“It grows ironically when good Samaritans come and provide meals and other good Samaritans come and provide tents. Then you see it spiral out of control and eventually it shuts down and eventually the cycle starts over again.” Martha Kegel said.
The homeless problem was much worse right after Katrina. In 2007 there were more than 11-thousand today the number is around 2,000.
Unity acknowledges that the tent city is not the best long-term solution.
“I think the fact that all of us in New Orleans know what it’s like to be homeless because we all experienced it during Katrina. We are better equipped and more passionate and helping our fellow neighbors, perhaps better than any other city,” Kegel explains. “So once again we will end this camp, and we will do it in a humane, legal, and effective way.”
Neighbors say the makeshift village is becoming a problem and an eyesore in the downtown area.