ICYMI: Proposed multimillion-dollar downtown homeless shelter draws mixed reactions


By Camille Whitworth

NEW ORLEANS —A group led by the Downtown Development District of New Orleans has proposed plans to build a multimillion-dollar homeless shelter.

The proposed shelter will cost $7 million to build and help “centralize the homeless population” in the Crescent City, said DDD president and CEO Kurt Weigle.

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“The idea is to create a low-barrier shelter and a place that is outdoor for folks who are unwilling to go into a traditional shelter,” Weigle said.

Weigle said the center will provide mental health and addiction services, while also having fewer rules in place for people staying there, like being sober or having an ID. He said fewer rules will help bring in more homeless people who need the help.

While an exact location has not been established, Weigle said the proposed shelter will be located in downtown New Orleans. The center’s location has drawn criticism from some business owners, like George Schmidt, who owns a gallery in the area.

“Share the poor. Spread them around. Put some in Jefferson Parish, some in St. Bernard Parish,” Schmidt said. “I mean, they’re poor; they don’t care where they are. I think every town should have its own homeless shelter instead of concentrating them in one place.”

Weigle said that the shelter will have five components: an outdoor shelter, mental health crisis beds, a sobering unit, inpatient detox treatment and a medical triage.

Zayn Abidin (Loyola University) contributed to this report.  

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