Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Low barrier

This week, the mayor announced plans for a new "low-barrier" homeless shelter on Erato street at S. Derbigny just uptown from the Calliope overpass. The shelter is a good idea and deserves to be supported. Not everybody thinks so, of course.
The new shelter, which Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration plans to build at 3101 Erato St. in the B.W. Cooper neighborhood, is just two blocks away from two public school buildings. They are Sylvanie Williams College Prep and the shuttered Booker T. Washington High School, which is expected to reopen in the near future.

Critics worry that piling many of the city’s homeless in one space could pose a threat to students and residents because the shelter would be open to all comers, including people who are mentally ill or struggling with alcohol and drug addictions.

“What we are saying is: Our children are a top priority,” said Ben Kleban, an Orleans Parish School Board member-elect and the founder of the charter management group that runs Williams. “Safety for them is a top priority. And this shelter, by design, will concentrate some of the most in need … in a neighborhood that is already in need of services.”
"Think of the children!" says Ben Kleban even though there is no reason to believe any children would be harmed by there being better services available for the homeless population.  Kleban, by the way, is an OPSB "member-elect" as a consequence of having been unopposed in one of what could have been a pivotal slate of school board races.   Yet another reason these elections matter. The barriers for entry to these offices shouldn't be quite so low.

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