The New Orleans Mission, which was scheduled to suspend its services because of a lack of funding, will receive a $50,000 emergency shelter grant from the city of New Orleans, city officials announced today. Along with a $30,000 anonymous donation, the money will allow the shelter to remain open through the summer and offer expanded hours.
"We're going to stay open. We're going to stay open 24 hours a day," said Bennett Powell, chairman of the New Orleans Mission board of directors at a City Hall press conference.
The troubled organization has hired a new director — David Bottner — replacing Ronald and Linda Gonzales, who resigned on June 7, according to a report in The Times-Picayune .
The Gonzaleses' combined salaries came to more than $100,000 per year, Powell said. Bottner, however, has agreed to work for a $1 annual salary in his first year.
Ozanam Inn will also receive a $50,000 emergency shelter grant.
(Read the city's press release after the jump)
NEW ORLEANS, LA— Earlier this week, the New Orleans Mission announced that it was suspending overnight shelter services this summer due to funding constraints. City leadership immediately became engaged with the New Orleans Mission’s Executive Board to find a solution to prevent any disruption in homeless services.
Today, the City of New Orleans announced $50,000 Emergency Shelter Grants to both the New Orleans Mission and Ozanam Inn allowing them to continue to provide important services to homeless individuals in New Orleans. In addition to the grant notices, the Executive Board of the New Orleans Mission announced a $30,000 donation by a concerned citizen and a transition in leadership by naming David Bottner as the new Executive Director of the New Orleans Mission. Mr. Bottner is currently Executive Director of Compassion Outreach of Slidell, LA.
“For the last year, my Administration has been working with the New Orleans Mission and the Ozanam Inn to improve homeless services for individuals in need,” Mayor Landrieu said. “It is vital that homeless men and women across New Orleans have access to emergency shelter, especially during the summertime. The cornerstone to ending homelessness is helping get people off the streets and connecting them with services that help them reach their highest potential. These grant allocations are in keeping with my commitment to ending homeless in the next ten years.”
According to UNITY’s 2012 Homeless Point In Time Count for New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, over 4,900 people are on the streets including unsheltered individuals, youth and families.
Councilmember at Large Stacy Head said, “Nobody in New Orleans should be without shelter or food. Providing these basic necessities is the bare minimum that should be expected of our society, which prides itself on human rights advocacy. Keeping the New Orleans Mission open will ensure that thousands of our homeless receive a roof overhead and bread on their plate. It is the minimum that should be given to the least of us.”
District B Councilmember Diana Bajoie said, “I’m very glad that the City and the New Orleans Mission have worked together, to ensure that vital services are provided to those among us that are in the most need. It’s really important that the homeless have access to services like those provided by the Mission. The Mission is an important partner along the O.C. Haley and I look forward to working with them in the future as we continue to strengthen this revived corridor.”
State Representative Helena Moreno said, “It is clear that everyone understood what a terrible public safety problem would have occurred if the Mission closed for the summer. I thank all parties for coming together to solve this is and now look forward to dealing with the overall epidemic of homelessness in our city.”
Today’s announcements will soon allow the facility to remain open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The New Orleans Mission has also promised to partner with the City to keep homeless individuals from living under the Pontchartrain Expressway. Last fall, the City housed 85 individuals living underneath the expressway.
Bennett Powell, Chairman of the New Orleans Mission, said, “The New Orleans Mission greatly appreciates the donation from the concerned citizen and the leadership of the City of New Orleans for stepping up to assist us. We are excited that our doors will remain open so we can continue to help those in need.”
Deputy Mayor of Facilities, Infrastructure and Community Development Cedric Grant said, “The New Orleans Mission has served as a vital link for thousands of homeless men and women by temporarily providing clothing, food, medical care, overnight emergency shelter, and job placement services since 1989. It is an important partner in the City’s efforts to end homelessness and today’s grant announcement is a validation of the City’s commitment to those in need.”
Stacy Horn Koch, Director of Homeless Policy for the City of New Orleans, said, “We are so excited to announce that the Mission will not be closing and that the Board and new management are moving forward with a spirit of renewed collaboration and cooperation with the City and the community where they reside. I also want to thank all of the other service providers who called to offer their support and help to the New Orleans Mission and the vulnerable people they serve.”
David Bottner, the new Executive Director of the New Orleans Mission, said “We are determined to bring quality assistance to the homeless community of New Orleans. We are going to bring love to an area that deeply needs it and honor to men and women that are often looked down upon by society. We are going to bring encouragement and hope where they have had no hope.”
Deacon Biaggio DiGiovanni, Executive Director of the Ozanam Inn said, “We are deeply appreciative of the City coming to the aid of those who serve the homeless. We are dedicated to continuing to provide quality service to the needy.”
Last fall, the City of New Orleans announced a Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness and created the New Orleans Interagency Council on Homelessness (NOICH) to oversee its implementation. This advisory council is comprised of leaders from UNITY, the Continuum of Care, business, criminal justice, health care, higher education, faith-based, government, non-profit, neighborhood, and philanthropic sectors. This plan takes a housing first approach that is centered on providing homeless constituents with immediate housing and then linking them with the supportive services necessary to sustain their housing status and improve their quality of life. The plan also provides strategies for addressing such urgent issues as housing the unsheltered homeless living in and around downtown and those living in abandoned, blighted buildings throughout the City. It also outlines detailed strategies to increase the availability of resources, improve data collection, improve service delivery, ad facilitate partnerships and coordination.