City Breaks Ground on $5.27M Expansion of Low Barrier Shelter

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Today (Thursday, Feb, 4), Mayor LaToya Cantrell and other city officials broke 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 percent,” Mayor Cantrell said. “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.”

WATCH: Low Barrier Shelter Phase II groundbreaking

The Low Barrier Shelter is located in portions of the second and third floors of the old VA Hospital. The project 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 Community Development Block Grant funds and $277,000 from bonds.

“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 shelter now 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 serving the homeless in New Orleans since August 2018.

The expansion will include upgrades to 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 floor renovations include the addition of a multi-bed sleep area, new shower and restroom facilities, additional staff work areas, and additional storage space.

“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 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.