On Jan. 7, 2015, Mayor Mitch Landrieu held a press conference to announce that New Orleans has become the first major U.S. city to end veteran homelessness. In response to First Lady Michelle Obama's Mayors Challenge to End Homelessness by the end of 2015, New Orleans set out to be the first to meet that goal and did so a year early. Read the press release from the event here.
This announcement sets a benchmark for the nation, and is an exciting way to start the last year of the Five-Year Plan to End Veteran Homelessness. The success in New Orleans is a testament to the fact that we can eliminate veteran homelessness in our nation if all the right partners come together with a sharp focus on making it happen.
NCHV Executive Director Baylee Crone was on hand for this historic announcement and provided the following remarks:
"Thank you Mayor Landrieu and your team, Martha Kagel and the team at Unity, and the service providers and individuals in New Orleans who joined together to provide a hand up to 227 veterans in need. Let me repeat that: 227 veterans in need, who were homeless, on these streets, in these shelters, in your community. On behalf of the NCHV National Office, the thousands of service providers in every state of this country that we serve, and the tends of thousands of veterans who are still homeless in this nation's streets, shelters, and communities: let me offer you a sincere and humbled thank you for your work leading up to today.
The nation is watching, and I am thankful they are.
To the City of New Orleans, to people who know the trials of hardship and the cost of recovery: you could have said "we cannot end veteran homelessness here." Instead, you said "let it be done now." You could have said "we do not have enough resources here." Instead, you asked "what can we do with what we have, and how can we do it faster and better?" You could have held up that 2014 point in time count and said "this is the end goal." Instead, you said "this is where we must start."
Ending the human tragedy of veteran homelessness is a moving target, but today we are one giant step closer to that target, and we can begin to see it, know it, and feel it. It looks like an older veteran, proud of his service and just as proud to show his long estranged family the apartment he now rents all on his own. It looks like a young female veteran who can sleep at night because she no longer has to choose between sleeping close to her children or having a roof over her head. It sounds like a sigh of relief for the first time in a long time, from a young OIF veteran with a paycheck from a stable job that he can keep now that he isn't bouncing from city to city, from couch to couch.
On the national stage we know ending all veteran homelessness is complicated. But all of these people, each of the 227 individuals you served, they are complicated. We all are too. They are also resilient, you have been resilient, and we must all be resilient now. The nation looks to you and your example.
Let me now thank you for the work that you will do later today, tomorrow, and the next day. We know that so long as a single veteran sleeps on our nations streets, our work remains unfinished. As we are seeing here, every step toward setting up comprehensive systems of care gets one more piece of the puzzle in place.
Thank you to Mayor Landrieu, Unity and the major service provider partners, and partners at VA and HUD for driving forward momentum toward change. Thank you."