NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— Like many U.S. cities, New Orleans has a significant homeless population, but what do we really know about finding a solution to the problem?
Exploring the lives of the homeless is at the heart of research being done by UNO doctoral candidate Chelsea Nelson.
Nelson says, “I’ve gone around the country and interviewed 323 individuals who were currently experiencing homelessness in 15 different cities. While getting my PhD I noticed there was a huge gap in research which focused on the homeless perspective.”
According to a homeless New Orleans man, “Joe”, one perspective is that of taking care of each other, “When resources are scarce the sharing starts in earnest. It’s a really powerful difference between being out there and being here”
What Nelson has also found out is that there is no one solution to the issues
“Some individuals need housing focus, some need employment focus, some need healthcare focus and if we’re able to address each of the individual’s needs that I think that will result in a solution towards homelessness or much closer,” said Nelson
There are efforts by nonprofits and agency groups to help our homeless and that doesn’t go unnoticed
Another homeless New Orlenian, “Bubba” stated, “God Bless them for that because without them we’d be starving to death out here.”
Perhaps the biggest find in Nelson’s research is that these men and women want the same thing we all want.
“They do not want to be homeless. They do want to work. They want to own their own home. They want to own their own house, their apartment. I think we have a common misconception that individuals don’t want to work or they want to remain homeless and that’s not the case whatsoever that I found both locally and nationally,” said Nelson.