NEW ORLEANS – The latest numbers from the Health Department in New Orleans show that there are more than 3,000 people experiencing homelessness in Louisiana, with an estimated 1,300 living unhoused in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. The Salvation Army of Greater New Orleans and Aetna Better Health of Louisiana, a CVS Health company, are collaborating to help reduce homelessness and improve community health.
At 1 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 21, the organizations will unveil the “Pop-Up Care Village,” which will feature New Orleans‘ first mobile hygiene unit. The unit will be displayed at the Salvation Army headquarters, 4526 South Claiborne Ave.
Using a $150,000 grant from Aetna, the Salvation Army purchased a mobile hygiene unit, which includes four individual shower stalls, one handicapped-accessible stall and a washer and dryer. The Salvation Army will work with the city to identify areas to deploy the unit. Once on site, the mobile unit will be connected to a water source.
“We could not have accomplished this without Aetna Better Health of Louisiana,” said Chris Thornhill, commander of the Salvation Army of Greater New Orleans. “Regardless of what has led a person to become homeless, they deserve to be clean and have clean clothes, and we feel that if we can give those in our homeless population access to personal hygiene, we can begin gaining trust in the other social services we offer,” he said.
In addition, Aetna Better Health of Louisiana is working with community partners to offer on-site medical screenings that include services such as wound care, vaccinations and sidewalk talk therapy. When the hygiene unit is deployed, a Salvation Army canteen will serve meals, and caseworkers will be available to talk about services offered by the Salvation Army, such as emergency housing, case management and job training.
“The absence of showers is a significant problem for homeless individuals and is a primary reason many do not seek employment, housing assistance, medical care and other services,” said Rick Born, CEO, Aetna Better Health of Louisiana. “Providing personal hygiene resources as well as medical and social services directly to unhoused individuals removes barriers and can help improve the health of communities in the parish.”