Homeless advocates, city officials, police officers and a slew of volunteers converged under the Pontchartrain Expressway near the Central Business District early Thursday morning to clear out the longtime encampment where about 165 homeless people have been sleeping in recent months.
The encampment, which has waxed and waned in size since the 1990s, boomed over the summer, to the frustration of nearby business owners and residents. Critics called it an eyesore and a “no man’s land” where drug use and violence were rampant and a huge rodent population thrived.
Dozens of caseworkers and volunteers, wearing red vests, fanned across the area beginning at 4:30 a.m. They conducted individual assessments of each person they encountered before whisking many away to shelters.
Charlotte Parent, director of the city’s Health Department, said the homeless were taken to either the nearby New Orleans Mission, the Ozanam Inn on Camp Street or the Salvation Army building on South Claiborne Avenue.