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We believe addressing the needs of the chronically homeless is important and should be a priority, but placing the homeless shelter next door to 2 public schools, on environmentally contaminated property is the wrong solution.

We believe the safety of our children should be our number 1 priority.

The proposed site for the shelter, 3101 Erato St., is one block from two public schools, in a neighborhood already challenged by poverty and crime, in close proximity to two mixed-income developments, and is environmentally contaminated.

While we think the Mayor’s plan addresses the right problem, the proposed site is the wrong location. A plan to locate a "low barrier" homeless shelter next door to Sylvanie Williams Elementary School and Booker T Washington High School puts the safety of our children at risk.

We are asking the Mayor to suspend his immediate plan of action - as it will place the homeless, our children, and our community at greater risk.

A better location for the shelter would be downtown, where most of the homeless people already are. The shelter has a $1 million investment from the Downtown Development District - but the proposed site is not located downtown where it should be.

The assessed value of the Erato property is estimated at $290,000 by the Orleans Assessor, however the City has placed a contract offer at $750,000. At this time, it appears that there is no operational plan for the shelter, or a committed source of funding for the annual operating budget that is estimated at $1.5 million.

Additionally, the Department of Environmental Quality is expected to require remediation of the land during efforts to retrofit the property. This will require a significant remediation budget. We think the funds would be better spent on programming and expanding access to mental health and addiction services for the chronically homeless to ensure proper services to the homeless and safety for us all.

Construction and remediation costs will likely eat up the budget, and by the time the shelter is opened, the Mayor will no longer be in office to take responsibility for ensuring safety and quality. We need to find a better and safer way to meet the needs of ALL of our citizens - and our children must always be our first priority.

Ben Kleban, Founder & President, New Orleans College Prep

Rhonda Kalifey-Aluise, CEO, KIPP New Orleans Schools

Tanya James, Executive Director, Central City Renaissance Alliance

LaToya Cantrell, City Councilmember, District B

Stacy Head, Councilmember-At-Large

Leslie Ellison, Orleans Parish School Board, District 4

Wayne Jones, President, Booker T Washington Alumni Association

James Raby, President, Walter L Cohen Alumni Association

Una Anderson, Executive Director, Harmony Neighborhood Development

Donna Johnigan, President, Marrero Commons

Cynthia Wiggins, President, Guste Homes Resident Management Corporation

Gina Womack, Executive Director, Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children

Rosalind Washington, Executive Vice President, Neighborhood Development Foundation

Jonathan Wilson, President, 100 Black Men of New Orleans

Pastor Leonard Banks, Greater Full Gospel Church

Pastor William Brent, Jr., The First African Baptist Church

Pastor Michelle Burt Conerly, Mount Salem Baptist Church

Pastor Willie Gable, Progressive Baptist Church

Rev. Arthur Groce, Israelite Baptist Church

Pastor Merlin Jackson, Little Zion Baptist Church

Rev. Louis Jones, Saint John Institutional Missionary Baptist Church

Pastor Emanuel Smith, Israelite Baptist Church

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