As COVID-19 continues to ravage our beloved city, we find comfort in the acts of kindness we are witnessing from our friends and neighbors. In true New Orleans fashion, citizens are rising to the occasion, going above and beyond to lend a helping hand to those in need. Restaurants are providing meals for the unemployed, young adults are making grocery runs for their elderly neighbors, and hotels are helping shelter some of our homeless population.

On top of the compassion we are seeing from friends and neighbors, we are also seeing deliberate and thoughtful measures taken by state and local government to help protect our citizens through this trying time. Of note, we commend the city’s ban on residential evictions, as well as hotel evictions, through the morning of May 4, at minimum. However, with a newly extended stay-at-home order through May 15, and businesses throughout New Orleans remaining shuttered and further unable to keep employees on payroll, we urge city officials to also extend the eviction moratorium.

Extension of the ban or not, we are faced with the reality that sooner or later the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are going to lead to a surge in homelessness in New Orleans and across the region. While the city remains on lockdown, and people go longer lengths of time without income, we are going to see increasingly more community members struggling to afford rent. This includes families who have never before faced the risk of homelessness, suddenly finding themselves in a position of great vulnerability. Additionally, with Louisiana schools now closed for the remainder of school year, even when the stay-at-home order is lifted, and the millions who filed unemployment are allowed to go back to work, a lack of access to child care could prevent them from doing so.

New Orleans must prepare as best we can for the inevitable increase in our homeless population. We must do everything we can to help our friends as they navigate this uncertain, and often frightening, time in their lives.

DAWN BRADLEY-FLETCHER

executive director, New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter

New Orleans