Homeless Ordered To Vacate Overpass Camp

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Homelss CampThe homeless living under the Pontchartrain Expressway overpass have less than 48 hours to pack up and relocate.

The city has declared the area a public health hazard.

WGNO News Darian Trotter has details and reaction from people who call the area home.

The area under the Pontchartrain Expressway overpass, between S.Claiborne and St. Charles Avenues, has become home for dozens of homeless men and woman.

Now people like Jessika Hayne are scrambling to relocate.

“Like everybody’s worried about where they’re gonna go,” Hayne said.

Monday night the New Orleans Health Department gave people living at the camp a 72-hour notice to vacate.

“I don’t like it. There’s nowhere for us to go. I’m not from here I don’t know the city and I’ve been to the shelters but I’m told they’re full so there’s nowhere to go.”

The city says there are currently enough temporary shelter beds available for the roughly 140 people living in the encampment.

Shelter’s like the Salvation Army or the nearby New Orleans Mission are among the suggested alternatives.

David Britz said, “Sometimes a lot of people like it our here, you know what I mean. They like it out here. Trotter asked, “Why?” that’s their style of living. They don’t want to be told nothing. They want to have their own life. Do their own thing and not be under rules and regulations,” Britz replied.

“Some people just don’t want to go there. Like, they just don’t want to be there,” Hayne added.

The camp has been declared a public health hazard due to debris, food, garbage, and human waste.

City sanitation workers have repeatedly tried without success to clean the area.

It’s been challenging for Mosquito and Termite Control to do their work too.

“We know that the homeless issue is a big issue. We’re trying to be empathetic to what we need to be empathetic to, but the bottom line is that when the department can’t do the work that they need to do to create a safe public health space, we need to act,” Deputy Director of the Health Department, Charlotte Parent said.

With 48-hours left Jessika Hayne has already started packing.

“Whatever can fit in the suitcases or backpack goes, whatever else they can take when they do the cleanup,” Hayne said.

Social workers will be going out over the next couple of days to assist people living in the camp.

Once the area is cleaned it will be barricaded to prevent it from becoming a camp in the future.