On Thursday, May 7, the city of New Orleans placed more than 150 homeless residents into temporary housing in local hotels as part of the ongoing response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The city has been working with the state along with UNITY of Greater New Orleans to get move homeless individuals off the streets to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus among the vulnerable population. The first moves began in late March.

“We are committed to finding as many housing alternatives as possible — including both temporary and more permanent — for our more vulnerable residents who have become susceptible to the coronavirus,” said Ellen M. Lee, Director of the Office of Community and Economic Development. “We continue to respond as we successfully identify additional resources to make this happen.”

Mayor LaToya Cantrell has said she hopes to keep homeless residents sheltered in place through July, providing additional time for city officials to expand capacity at its low-barrier shelter, to help residents transition into permanent housing and provide other comprehensive services to homeless residents as the city’s response to COVID-19 moves into subsequent phases.

And the city announced earlier this week that it would be using some funds from the $10.4 million in Affordable Housing Grants it received from the state to increase the number beds available at shelters “to address the nearly 400 unsheltered homeless individuals in New Orleans”. Through the Shelter Expansion and Rehabilitation Program, the city expects to increase shelter capacity by 300 beds, according to an announcement about the housing grant.

On Thursday, the majority of the homeless residents were identified and transported from three general locations — along Calliope Street, the main branch of the public library on Loyola, and Duncan Plaza.

City officials did not make announcements about transporting homeless residents in hotels in advance. Instead, residents were notified early Thursday morning and given ID bracelets to confirm their participation in the relocation.

The City and State continue to provide temporary housing for residents moved from an encampment around the intersection of Claiborne and Cleveland avenues, due in part to a rodent infestation following the closure of several downtown restaurants. The state is funding much of the costs for housing and services at all four hotels.

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