Health & Homeless Initiatives

Drug addiction and the lack of food, healthcare, and affordable housing can all be detrimental not only to the health of homeless residents, but local communities as well. Below are some city initiatives that are helping to address homelessness and public health issues.

Low Barrier Shelter

In August 2018, the City opened the Low Barrier Shelter in the old VA hospital, one floor above the Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC). The shelter has 100 beds and will accept anyone over the age of 18 and their pets. Other homeless shelters often require sobriety, photo IDs, TB tests, time limitations, or payment, all of which can be barriers for people to access those services. This shelter does not have those requirements allowing easier access. By doing so, it allows service providers to meet people where they are and provide important and necessary services. In 2021, it was announced that the City will invest $5 million in the low barrier shelter. The shelter will gain an additional 246 beds, which will bring it to a total of 346 beds.

Since it opened in 2018, the Low Barrier Shelter has been able to transition 495 people into permanent supportive housing.

Weekly Outreach, Health Assessment, and Public Sanitation

Since May 2015, the New Orleans Health Department, the Office of Community Development, the Department of Sanitation, and the New Orleans Police Department have directed weekly outreach while cleaning homeless encampments. This is a chance for staff to talk to people who are newly homeless, check on the status of each person, give referrals to community partners, and clean the area. Under the current city ordinance, the city must ensure that people’s personal property remain untouched during the cleanup. The city only removes trash, debris, and items that pose a public or safety hazard. More information can be found in the Public Sanitation page. 

Diversion Programs

The City is working towards reopening the Sobering Center after it was forced to close during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Sobering Center opened in 2019 and served people who are chronically intoxicated, many of which may be homeless.  While this is a temporary shelter, it provides a chance to link to substance abuse treatment.  The LEAD program/partnership between NOPD and NOHD intervenes with individuals who have been arrested multiple times on the street and provides intensive case management services, including housing placement.

If someone needs help for drug use, they can refer to this local substance use resource guide.

Healthcare for the Homeless Clinic

Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) offering accessible and comprehensive healthcare services in the Greater New Orleans area, regardless of one’s ability to pay.  HCH offers primary healthcare services to adults, and dental services are available to both adults and children.

Staff include doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, nursing and dental assistants, case managers, and enabling staff members.  HCH has been operating for over 30 years under the direction of the City of New Orleans Health Department.

Click here for more information or to make an appointment.