Home. A multifaceted concept that differs dramatically depending on who you ask. For some, “home is where the heart is.” Others report “home is where my mom is” and even “home is where the WIFI connects automatically.” But for far too many New Orleanians, home is under the highway overpass, in a borrowed car or squatting in an abandoned building. For these individuals, “home” may unattainable despite intensive efforts.
At Positive Living Treatment Center we strive to provide comprehensive mental health and community support services to a largely low-income population in the greater New Orleans area. Throughout the year we encounter families and individuals who have fallen on hard times, who may not have enough to eat or don’t know when their next paycheck will be coming in. When the going gets rough, these families turn to our agency and other social service organizations for support. This year however, our clients have been overtly failed by the State of Louisiana, the City of New Orleans and housing services.
Recently, a homeless mother and her five children came to our agency with a heartbreaking story. This mother had been abused by her husband for 15 years and only escaped his attacks when he was incarcerated for attempted murder (of her). During this period of 15 years, the youngest child (2 month old girl) died under the father’s care and the rest of the children were traumatized by this event as well as the constant violence they witnessed from their father and the experience of living in abject poverty. Since this man was the primary breadwinner of the family, this mother and her five remaining children were put out onto the street when she couldn’t pay the rent.
Naturally, this mother did not sit idly by as her children were put at risk to the elements, crime and hunger. Independently and with our help this family has completed countless applications for permanent housing, sought protection from battered women’s shelters and homeless shelters and contacted housing and social service agencies. Despite our combined efforts and network of resources, this woman and her five children remain homeless and are living on the streets. We were told she “isn’t in enough imminent danger because her husband is incarcerated” to qualify for battered women’s shelters. We were told that other shelters simply “don’t have any beds available”. Finally, when we were able to place her in an emergency shelter, she was forced to leave because of the distance to her children’s school and a lack of reliable transportation. This is unacceptable.
This failure to provide adequate resources to families seeking shelter is an abomination and demonstrates a perfect example of the misrepresentation of “progress” that we consistently hear about from Louisiana government officials. Our residents are struggling and we need help.
Our agency is a mental health center that is not prepared to house clients but we firmly believe that mental wellness cannot be achieved if these immediate needs of safety, warmth and stability are not met. Please consider donating to this fund that will support our homeless and high need families/individuals, especially during these cold winter months while we seek more permanent housing options. All funds donated will cover hotel costs when shelters are full, clothing, toiletries, school supplies and other immediate needs. We are so grateful for any assistance you can provide (no matter how small). Any amount will help us to show these individuals that they are not alone, they have not been abandoned and they will be supported. If you’re unable to donate, please share the link as widely you can.