New Orleans' Homeless: From Tent City to Barracks
"[New Orleans Mayor Ray] Nagin vowed to use health and safety codes to move the men and women living underneath the stretch of Interstate 10 known as the Claiborne Avenue bridge to the tarp-covered facility that was awaiting fire inspections. Aware of the camp's proximity to the French Quarter and other tourist destinations, the mayor wants the move done by the end of the week."
"The barrack, 120-feet long and 30-feet wide, is air-conditioned, filled with double-decker bunk beds and stands on the grounds of a mission in the city's Central Business District that has worked with the homeless for 20 years...[but critics say the] military-style barrack is short on long-term solutions to a homeless epidemic."
"But even its administrator said he is unsure the facility that offers only meals and overnight stays to about 120 people can really help a homeless population that has doubled to 12,000 since Katrina struck in August 2005. The city's public advocacy unit, unarmed officers with the New Orleans Police Department Homeless Assistance Collaborative, city housing department workers, and mission staff will usher people into the barrack as early as Thursday, Quiett said. Those who do not go elsewhere will face citations, and arrests could take place if drugs are found, city officials said."
"The encampment attracted former Sen. John Edwards, who stopped there the day he ended his presidential bid and pledged to "never forget" the downtrodden. Visiting pro athletes have handed out food there on the way to the New Orleans Arena and Louisiana Superdome a few blocks away."
"Countless tourists also have passed the spectacle of curbside panhandlers, frayed camping tents, scattered sleeping bags, discarded home furnishings that stretches for about five city blocks not a half-mile from the French Quarter."