NOPD Homeless Assistance Collaborative Under the Pontchartrain Expressway

The I10 Underpass at DryadesYou remember those scenes of people stranded on the freeways, waiting to get out of New Orleans after the levees broke? Well, people are still stuck on freeways–only now, underneath them. I snapped this picture of the underpass on Dryades as I crossed in to the CBD from the Lower Garden District. It was dark out and the people who are often massed under here, ducking out of the sun, were gone. In their place was the NOPD Homeless Assistance-Collaborative van. I figured the folks who spent their time out here were just inside the Mission that’s up the block, but the Times-Picayune reports the police were here this morning, clearing people out by connecting them with social services. There’s not room at the Mission for all the folks who need a place to stay. The men who do find a bed sleep with the other 139 people in a giant tent behind the Mission building. Homelessness was a huge problem before Katrina, and it remains one today. Social services are limited, and the NOPD clearing out places where homeless people congregate certainly isn’t a long term solution, no matter how well-intentioned and kind the officers are. I am happy that people are working to get homeless people some of the help they need, but I couldn’t help thinking, as I squinted at that police van, that these solutions are another mode of criminalization, of treating a social problem as an individual problem, as a matter of individual bad choices rather than structural economic and social issues. Oh, and that’s Mahalia Jackson singing on that support beam, by the way.

One thought on “NOPD Homeless Assistance Collaborative Under the Pontchartrain Expressway

  1. The only reason they did this is because Saints season started. People have to park their cars where the homeless people hang out, near the mission.

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