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Frigid weather leads to citywide freeze plan, extended shelter access for homeless

Over 5,200 people live on the streets of New Orleans

New Orleans has one of the highest homeless populations in the nation.
Photo by Matthew Woitunski via Wikimedia Commons

While some people will be able to easily avoid the anticipated freezing weather this weekend, others may have a harder time finding shelter.

On Thursday, January 5, The Office of the Mayor implemented its Citywide Freeze Plan, which will begin today, January 6, and end on Sunday, January 8. According to the National Weather Service, the temperature low of this weekend will drop below 35 degrees.

The city’s freeze plan is implemented to provide temporary shelters for the homeless in New Orleans. The Salvation Army, Ozanam Inn, Covenant House and New Orleans Mission will service additional occupants this weekend.

Ozanam Inn’s Executive director Clarence Adams, Sr. is preparing his organization for its shelter service during this weekend’s frigid weather.

“The people on the freeze nights are usually no different than the people we serve any other night. We fill up every night, so we have to turn people away,” Adams said.

Ozanam Inn takes in about 96 homeless men in New Orleans every night. During the the Citywide Freeze Plan, Ozanam Inn takes in an additional 30 occupants by setting up cots in its dining rooms area.

The Inn along with most other shelters in New Orleans are free of charge and are in high demand.

According to the City’s Ten Year Plan to end Homelessness, over 6,500 people are homeless in New Orleans, which is amongst the highest in the nation.

Out of those 6,500 people, 800 individuals live in temporary housing and over 5,200 adults live on the streets or in abandoned buildings. Thirty-two families in New Orleans sleep in cars and abandoned buildings, according to the city’s research.

This past October, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority and the Downtown Development District planned to fund the construction of a low barrier shelter in Central City, but is currently considering an alternative site after residents advocated against its proposed location.

“The best thing any one can do is spread the knowledge of homelessness,” Adams said.

“Homelessness can happen to anyone, and some need to realize that homeless people are simply people, too.”

If you’d like to contribute during this cold season, or throughout the year, the following shelters are taking donations, winter clothing, and volunteers:

  1. Ozanam Inn, 843 Camp St.
  2. The Salvation Army, 4530 South Claiborne Ave.
  3. New Orleans Mission, 1130 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.