City unveils plans for low-barrier homeless shelter in Central City

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – The city unveiled plans today to build a 75-100-bed “low-barrier” homeless shelter in Central City.

Low-barrier housing means having as few expectations of the tenants as possible in order to better serve homeless people who are in need of immediate housing. Often, that means eliminating requirements that the tenants remain sober or other similar issues.

It’s part of the city’s 10-year-plan to end homelessness in New Orleans. It’s also considered a best practice when it comes to reducing the homeless population.

The shelter will be built at 3101 Erato St. Plans call for 75 – 100 beds with separate areas for men and women ages 18 and up and round-the-clock operations with 24/7 security.

Entry to the shelter will be coordinated by UNITY of Greater New Orleans and based on the homeless clients’ specific needs so they can be quickly connected to case managers who will be focused on moving them towards permanent housing.

Case managers will be especially focused on the elderly and chronically homeless residing under the expressway. Because the facility is designed to house the most vulnerable chronically homeless, walk-in entry will be limited and placement into the shelter will be based primarily on UNITY's coordinated entry system, which is run out of the Community Resource and Referral Center at 1530 Gravier St.

Staff stationed at or working out of the shelter will include: medical professionals; housing navigators (focused on permanently housing homeless clients); coordinated entry personnel (focused on helping homeless clients access other services); residential monitors with training and 24/7 security personnel.

Other services will include mental health counseling provide by Metropolitan Human Services District and other Medicaid billable services through Health Care for the Homeless.

Ongoing operational funding for the low barrier shelter will be split between the City, Downtown Development District and other entities. Cost to the city will be $500,000 – 750,000 a year.