February 19, 2024 | From City of New Orleans

City of New Orleans Office of Homeless Services and Strategy Celebrates First Year of Progress

The Office has closed two major encampments and housed 93 individuals since its establishment. 

OHSS logo

NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans Office of Homeless Services and Strategy (OHSS) is celebrating its 1-year anniversary this week and reflecting on the progress it has achieved. 

OHSS was officially established on Feb. 18, 2023, to create solutions to assist the city's unhoused population by expanding resources, outreach methods and partnerships, in addition to focusing on the root causes of homelessness. Nathaniel Fields was appointed as Director by Mayor LaToya Cantrell, bringing with him nearly a decade of experience in human services and resources. The office now has four full-time staff members and is in the process of hiring three full-time outreach employees. 

“Housing is Healthcare!,” said Director Fields. “If we provide housing with all the right case management and resources for each individual, then we are giving the person the ability to restart their lives.” 

In June 2023, OHSS successfully entered into a Professional Services Agreement with Clutch Consulting Group, LLC to develop and implement a strategic plan, along with stakeholder involvement, with a goal of achieving low to no unsheltered homelessness by the end of 2025. A major focus of this plan has been decommissioning homeless encampments, in partnership with community organizations like UNITY of Greater New Orleans and Travelers Aid. The Tchoupitoulas encampment was officially closed on Nov. 17, 2023, and the Treme encampment was recently closed on Feb. 9. A total of 93 individuals have been housed from both encampments, and efforts continue to target other specific areas. This work is funded by a $1.1 million grant from Louisiana Housing Corporation and a $15 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant, which was received by UNITY in January. 

OHSS has also been integral in responding to extreme weather events to connect unhoused individuals with shelter and resources as needed. From June to August 2023, New Orleans experienced record-breaking heat waves. OHSS conducted daily outreach, providing water throughout the city to the unhoused and helping organize transports to cooling centers. During the multiple hard freezes the city experienced this January, OHSS performed similar outreach to encourage people to utilize the overnight warming center.  

Other great initiatives include: 

  • Hosted a Day of Service at the Low Barrier Shelter to beautify the area as well as expanded the onsite staff and service capacity of the shelter 
  • Assisted in passing a zoning ordinance through New Orleans City Council to re-zone the area to allow for additional sheltering 
  • Received a donation of 5,000 hygiene kits from UPS to distribute to the unhoused 
  • Hosted the Inaugural Winter Coat & New Socks Drive  
  • Hosted the Inaugural Thanksgiving Feed the Homeless Event, which fed nearly 400 people 
  • Hosted a Christmas Feed the Homeless Event, which fed nearly 400 people 

OHSS continues the work of connecting unhoused individuals to much-needed services and resources by collaborating with the New Orleans Health Department and UNITY to conduct weekly outreach at encampments for wellness checks. This work continues to be supported by community organizations, such as Church of King, Dry Bones Ministry, Crusaders of the Cross, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, Crossing Jordan, Holy Spirit Street Church, Cajuns Cooking for Christ and The Bourge. 

In March, Director Fields will travel to San Francisco, CA to speak at National Alliance to End Homelessness’ 2024 Innovations and Solutions for Ending Unsheltered Homelessness Conference. Specifically, he will participate on a plenary panel highlighting leaders within this field who are bringing their own lived experience into their profession to create real, innovative solutions, while emphasizing true partnership, compassion and understanding. 


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