Homeless vacated from Pontchartrain Expressway, change locations

Past the corner of Calliope and Camp St. are dozens of tents. Most living in them, like Jack Duncan, moved there after the city of New Orleans cleared out their old encampment under the Pontchartrain Expressway a few blocks down.

"They're just pushing us from there to someplace else," said Duncan, who has been living on the streets for three months now. "They're just creating problems for businesses by having the homeless right there in front of them."

The New Orleans Health Department called the initial area a health hazard. Officials say conditions were so crowded, crews weren't able to clean or do pest control. More than 140 people were living under there. The city worked with shelters to provide beds and food, but only some took up the offer.

"We've had exactly 32 additional come in, men and women," said David Bottner with the New Orleans Mission. "So it's just a great opportunity to meet their need more than before which was just a meal and a cardboard box."

But Bottner says many of the homeless don't necessarily want to go to a shelter.

"There's a curfew, you got to leave at a certain time," he explained.

In a statement, the city says it encourages the homeless to take advantage of those resources, but the city says it "stands ready to enforce this tougher law that will help us clear smaller camps across the city that pose a public health and safety threat."

Several shelters, like the Ozanam Inn and the New Orleans Mission, are just blocks away from the new encampment. Workers there say they'll continue to reach out.

"Immediately, when we find out where people are congregating - we'll go to those places," said Bottner. "Even if it's just two or three." Bottner says even if his group can get one person off the street, he considers it a win.

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