Rising Out of Homelessness


Helping people rise out of homelessness is one of the toughest challenges in the affordable housing arena. Every story of homelessness is heartbreaking; those of homeless veterans are especially tough.

With the support of a $200,000 Foundation for Louisiana investment, UNITY of Greater New Orleans is renovating a historic former school and convent at 3222 Canal Street in New Orleans into 109 units of affordable housing. The housing will serve people who are working to move beyond homelessness, including veterans, along with people whose low incomes make them economically vulnerable. Those moving out of homelessness will be living in Permanent Supportive Housing, meaning that residents will also receive crucial supportive services that help once-homeless people to thrive.

The development is based on an income-integrated Permanent Supportive Housing model pioneered by UNITY development partner Community Solutions. On-site case and building managers will be present to get to know the residents and provide valuable support. Case managers will work specifically with residents housed in Permanent Supportive Housing, and building managers will serve as all-around coordinators to provide resources for all residents.

Foundation for Louisiana was one of the early investors in the renovation, in keeping with FFL’s work to lift up vulnerable people by creating economic opportunity. UNITY’s other development partner at 3222 Canal St. is Gulf Coast Housing Partnership.

The need for affordable rental housing in Louisiana is pressing. An 2014 assessment of Louisiana’s housing needs released by the Louisiana Housing Corporation finds that more than 44 percent of Louisiana’s renters pay more than 35 percent of their incomes for gross rent – up from just under 30 percent in 2000.

When 3222 Canal St. is complete later this year, roughly half of the units will be designated as Permanent Supportive Housing. Of those, 25 will be set aside for formerly homeless veterans with disabilities. The remaining 54 apartments will be for residents whose low incomes mean they could very well face homelessness without support.

Plans call for the completion of the development towards the end of 2014.

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