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Mayor Cantrell Breaks Ground on $5.27M Low Barrier Shelter Phase II Project for Homeless Residents

NEW ORLEANS — Mayor LaToya Cantrell today joined other officials to break ground on the $5.27 million expansion of the Low Barrier Shelter that opened in Fall 2018. The project is expected to be completed this summer.

“This expansion of the Low Barrier Shelter will increase capacity by 200%. It will also provide more space to facilitate case management, which is key to helping people down the path toward housing. This work is also the very definition of keeping the work moving forward, not just when it comes to caring for our most vulnerable residents in a pandemic, but continuing to improve our infrastructure during a pandemic, and keeping our economy moving forward as well,” said Mayor Cantrell.

[WATCH: Low Barrier Shelter Phase II groundbreaking]

“The expansion of the low barrier shelter will provide an opportunity to improve the quality of life for our homeless population. The project includes converting the existing warming kitchen into a full-service commercial kitchen, increasing shower and laundry facilities and providing additional office space for even more support services. We acknowledge the creative partnership with Mathis Brierre Architects and Colmex Construction and look forward to completing this important project,” said Vincent A. Smith, Director, Capital Projects Administration.

“The expansion of the Low Barrier Shelter is an example of the City meeting people where they are, providing the resources necessary for people to improve their quality of life,” said Marjorianna Willman, Director, Office of Housing Policy and Community Development.

“I am elated to see this expansion taking place. This pandemic has shown that many of us are really not that far removed from the crisis of homelessness. Homelessness is not a crime and too often results from circumstances far out of the control of the individuals impacted. We are intentional in our commitment to meet our people wear they live even if they live on the street. The additional bed space and expanded support services to the low barrier shelter will help our citizens better cope with and overcome this crisis situation of homelessness,” said Jay H. Banks, City Councilmember, District B.

The project features include expansion of the 2nd floor to upgrade the existing warming kitchen into a full, commercial kitchen, expansion of existing laundry services, additional restroom and shower facilities, addition of a staff break room and locker room, and additional office spaces. Third (3rd) floor renovations include the addition of a multi-bed sleep area, new shower and restroom facilities, additional staff work areas, and additional storage space.

The Project Team features Mathes Brierre Architects, Colmex Construction, LLC, and Project Manager Jerry Harris.

The Low Barrier Shelter is located in a portion of the 2nd Floor of Wing F of the old VA Hospital and into the remaining portion of the 2nd Floor and into the 3rd Floor. This will expand available beds from 100 to 346 beds and expand available services. Expansion in square footage is approximately 30,000 square feet. The $5.277 million budget includes $5 million from CDBG funds, and $277,000 from bonds.

The City also has provided funding for the relocation of Ozanam Inn to Poydras Street.

Both facilities will be completed in the Summer 2021.

“We’re grateful to the City of New Orleans for its ongoing commitment to eradicate homelessness. The expansion of the low barrier shelter, coupled with Ozanam Inn’s future new facility, will allow all partners to provide vital and necessary services to a larger population in need. Now, more than ever, this support for our community is crucial,” said Clarence Adams, CEO, Ozanam Inn.

The first phase of the 24/7 shelter includes 100 beds and a living and community space, as well as restrooms, showers, kitchen, laundry area, and office space for the shelter operator and service providers. It also has accommodations for special needs clients. Operated by the Start Corporation, the Low Barrier Shelter has been open and working with individuals since August 2018, serving the homeless of New Orleans. In addition to Start Corporation, this project is supported by United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Downtown Development District (DDD), the Louisiana Housing Corporation, the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, Unity of Greater New Orleans and their 60 plus service provider partners.

The City remains committed to creating affordable housing and other opportunities for equitable economic growth across New Orleans. There are approximately 525 affordable housing units under construction and approximately 800 housing units in predevelopment, with the expectation that they will begin construction in 2021.

The City also recently celebrated the groundbreaking of:

  • Lake Forest Tower, a senior development that has been blighted since Katrina
  • Vaucresson Creole Cafe in the 7th Ward — across the street from the Sacred Heart at St. Bernard complex, a multifamily community in an historic neighborhood
  • 882 Montegut — a new $19 million development by Iris Development Company and Green Coast Enterprises in a high-opportunity neighborhood, with 69 apartments, commercial space and permanently 99-year affordable units

The expansion of the shelter was another example of the City’s commitment to help our residents in this pandemic, in which it raised more than $6.7 million in philanthropic funds that includes rental assistance for public housing residents in the old Melpomene housing site. The City also established one of the first a Rental Assistance Programs in the state assisting more than 2,000 households.

Last week the City announced it would be receiving $11.6 million in rental assistance from the U.S. Treasury and is leading the charge for the remaining $14 million to come directly from the State to the City for rapid distribution. The City also established the Small Landlord Emergency Grant Program, with $1.5 million in funding. The Rapid Re-Housing Program also has assisted more than 700 people in transitioning some into permanent housing.

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