New Orleans and Louisiana can be proud to have welcomed first lady Michelle Obama, who was in the city to celebrate our meeting a commitment to America’s veterans.
Obama met with Mayor Mitch Landrieu to hear about the city’s efforts to meet the challenge of homeless men and women who are veterans of the armed services. New Orleans is the first major city in the country to achieve its numerical goals of reducing homelessness for former members of the armed services.
In Gallier Hall, the first lady praised the efforts — involving public agencies, private businesses and nonprofit organizations — to meet New Orleans’ targets in the “Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.”
“You all have proven that even in a city as big as New Orleans, veterans’ homelessness is not a reality that we have to accept,” Obama said, addressing a room filled with local elected officials and nonprofit leaders. “It is not an impossible problem that’s too big to solve.”
Other cities can learn from New Orleans’ efforts, in part through a new monthly conference call to coordinate efforts. Obama said the U.S. government is chipping in with nearly $65 million in new housing vouchers for vets. Blackstone, a major Wall Street house, is funding “welcome home” kits to veterans moving into new housing in 25 different cities, Obama said.
Our returning veterans from the wars of the past 10 years are among those served, but those of all conflicts deserve our attention, and the collaborative efforts among nonprofit and government sectors in New Orleans led by Landrieu are worthy of praise.