52 homeless families placed into housing before the holidays

52 homeless families placed into housing before the holidays

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Families living on the streets and in shelters got the gift of housing this holiday season.

The initiative is a part of Unity of Greater New Orleans' push to get 50 families into homes before the holidays. Unity, along with several other organizations, surpassed that goal Friday as the 52nd family got the keys to their home.

"Our stats are about 92 percent of families are able to maintain the housing by themselves and don't fall back into homelessness," Unity Executive Director Martha Kegel said. "If they do fall back, we just figure out what went wrong to make sure that is corrected the next time around."

"Me and my children will enjoy this," single mother of three Mary Francis said. "It's been a long time waiting for something this great."

Francis and her children moved into their Treme home recently. Previously they were forced to live in a shelter after Francis couldn't find adequate childcare while she worked. Without a steady income, the family soon found themselves in need of a home.

"[The kids] would say stuff like they're ready to go, things like that. But that is something that kind of recently just happened and the fact that I got to present them this before the holidays - that was really a blessing," Francis said.

As the organizations, which include Catholic Charities and New Orleans Women and Children's Shelter, met their 2016 goal, getting families into much-needed housing for 2017 is the task ahead as they look to put 200 families into homes.

"We get a baseline of support from the federal government, but it requires a 25 percent match from local donors," Kegel said. "Whatever people could give, whether it's time, money, used goods, we can use those things to help house people who are the most at risk in our community."

Unity takes donations during the week at its Mid City location at 2475 Canal Street, suite 300 in New Orleans.

"Every day's a good day for me when I get to end somebody's homelessness and put them into a house," Unity's Joe Heeren-Mueller said. "Housing is a human right. Everybody deserves to have a home."

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