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New Orleans Becomes First U.S. City Without Homeless Veterans

| by Kendal Mitchell
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By the evening of Jan. 2, social workers in New Orleans placed the last known homeless veteran into his own apartment — officially ending homelessness among veterans in the city. 

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu promised to end veteran homelessness in his city by the end of 2014. City officials first counted 193 homeless veterans at the beginning of 2014, later finding 35 more veterans living on the streets.  

In January 2014, Chicago had 714 homeless veterans, Los Angeles had 1,645, and New York had 3,739. 

"There are of course other cities and states that have higher numbers, but the kinds of barriers that they have been able to overcome as a partnership within the city of New Orleans is really just a landmark," said Ann Olivia, deputy assistant secretary for special needs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  

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Homeless advocates called on city officials across the country to reduce the number of homeless veterans in the past year. On July 4, 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Mayor's Challenge to End Homelessness, an initiative to house the almost 50,000 veteran homeless population. Around 300 mayors, six governors and 71 city officials, including those from cities like New York and Los Angeles, pledged to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. 

UNITY of Greater New Orleans, the lead organization tasked with housing former members of the U.S. military, collaborated with local, state and federal resources to house this population. Once identified, a homeless veteran can move into an apartment in as little as two weeks in New Orleans.

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Photo: UNITY of Greater New Orleans via Christian Science Monitor, Wikimedia Commons